5 Essential Steps to Prep Your Pool for Summer
Having your own swimming pool is fun and refreshing, especially during hot summer months. The downside is that pools require a lot of care and maintenance. A clean and well-balanced pool is something to be enjoyed, as nobody wants to swim in an unkempt pool. Keep your pool in its best condition by following these basic guidelines. Prevent the need for outside maintenance or repairs, and enjoy it to the fullest.
The Basics of Cleaning
Keep your pool clean with a skimming net. Skim the top of the water every day for leaves, bugs, twigs and other debris. This prevents items from sinking to the bottom of the pool where they can be much harder to reach. Remove any large items that have already sunk to the bottom of the pool with the skimming net. Be sure to remove everything from the water that you can.
Use a pool vacuum to clean the floor and walls of your pool. Run it only for an hour a day and it will crawl its way around your pool, cleaning without much effort. The vacuum will not pick up large items, however, so make sure to use your skimming net to pick up large items at the bottom of the pool before vacuuming. Skimming your pool more often also keeps your pool vac in better condition.
Brush the walls and floor of your pool with a pool brush (on a long pole) to loosen any algae. This will release the dirt so that the pool vacuum can clean it up much more easily.
Be sure to empty your strainer baskets at least once a week. Strainer baskets can be found near where the pool vacuum hose connects to the wall. Throw away all debris inside the basket and rinse it with an outdoor faucet or hose to clean it properly.
A Chemical Balance
One of the most important things to keep in check is your pool’s chemicals. Check your pH weekly to make sure its acidity and alkalinity are in the correct range by testing the water with pH strips. If your pH is too acid or alkaline, not only is it unsafe to swim in, but the water can carry harmful bacteria. High pH levels can also corrode metals, including your pool filter system and cleaning equipment. Purchase pH strips at your local swimming pool supply store.
Keeping your chlorine in check is also very important. Without chlorine, bacteria are much more likely to survive in pool water and multiply. A swimming pool with an imbalance of chlorine or pH can create a serious problem. For example, pH that is too high can prevent chlorine from killing bacteria found in the water. Too much chlorine, however, can alter the color of your hair and fade your swimsuit. Chlorine is a very harsh chemical, so make sure you measure how much you use on a regular basis and always follow the instructions on the product's label.
A perfect swimming pool needs constant attention and testing of pH and chlorine levels. Be sure to check all chemicals at least once a week. Check more often during peak times when the pool is being used more often. Do not swim in water that has not been tested recently.
Keep the Filter Clean
Backwash the filter to ensure that any dirt and debris in the filter has been discarded. Do this by switching the filter valve to “backwash” which will move water in the opposite direction and clean the pool filter. How the waste is discarded depends on the type of filter you use. Refer to information about your specific type of filter for proper cleaning instructions.
Cleaning the filter too often can also hinder its effectiveness. Be sure to clean it only as necessary, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Maintain Water Levels
Keep your pool full of water at all times. Water will naturally evaporate, especially during the heat of summer and during times when it is being used frequently. Keep the water level above the skimmer, which is the little box in the side of the pool where the water flows into. If the water level is low, simply fill the pool using a hose.
Consider the Surroundings
The scenery around your pool can contribute to your pool’s condition. Remove any trees or bushes that drop a lot of leaves, seeds, or pods into your pool. This type of plant debris can clog your pool vacuum and make a pool much less appealing to swim in.
Think of safety when landscaping around your pool, as well. Rocks or sand can make pool maintenance much more difficult. Slippery surfaces can cause accidents when swimmers are entering or exiting the pool.