Swimming Pool Maintenance: An Overview

by Jessica Brita-Segyde

Pool maintenance begins at the end. Proper care of your investment begins at the close of the season. Start thinking about servicing and closing your pool before the fireflies disappear. Most homeowners hire this job out to a professional.

Begin at the End

Closing the pool for the year involves multiple steps. Plan to balance the water and clean the filtration system. You may need to remove baskets or other equipment. Also, the filtration system should be disconnected as well as the heating system if you have one.

Before the pool is covered for the off-season, the pool lines should be blown out. This is an involved process and many homeowners hire a professional for this step (even if they DIY the rest).

If you’re lucky enough to live in a climate suitable for swimming year-round, a yearly maintenance check is still recommended.

Don’t empty the pool unless directed to do so by a professional.

Pre-Season

Pool owners typically think about opening their pools for the year when outdoor temperatures consistently hover above seventy degrees. This weather can feel chilly to a swimmer, but it’s in the range for algae growth. Therefore, it’s time to test the water and begin treating it.

Opening the pool for the year is a time of excitement, but it’s also a lot of work! Some owners hire a professional for this job, and others attempt this phase of pool maintenance themselves. Seasonal pool opening involves removing the cover, cleaning filters, clearing out any debris, and testing the water to determine the appropriate chemical treatment. You may also need to raise the water level. Draining a pool is usually not advisable unless absolutely necessary. The pre-season is also a good time to test the filtration system and heating system if you have one. Also, check any submersible lights and replace them if needed.

One difference is that above-ground pools could fail and flood the nearby yard and house. Consider installing a sump pump in your home if you have a basement.

Treating the Water

Most pool owners test the water daily. It is important to prevent harmful bacteria and algae from growing. The resulting stains are unsightly, plus you risk making the swimmers sick. You will need to test the water’s alkalinity and probably do weekly shock treatments. The traditional chemical used in water maintenance is chlorine, but some homeowners are moving away from using the harsh chemical. Salt cells reduce the amount of chlorine needed for sanitary water and last up to five years. Bromine is also gaining popularity as an alternative chemical.

Unexpected Repairs

If your pool needs repair, and especially if the sanitation or filtration systems are not working, you may need to close up for a while. If the water chemistry cannot be stabilized, or if the liner or other physical structures crack, draining may be necessary. Major pool repairs often require professional help and advice.

Although unlikely, above-ground pools could fail and flood the nearby yard and house. Consider installing a sump pump in your home if you have an above-ground pool and a basement.

Liners and Covers

Pool liners should be swept and free of debris whenever possible. It is also recommended to only allow toys and floatation devices approved for pools. Good water chemistry also helps to sustain the life of a pool liner. Pool blogger Debbie Farnan offers another great tip for liner maintenance: keep the waterline clean, as this is where the sun tends to do the most damage.

Automatic pool covers can be swept off if needed. Of course, this should be done from the side of the pool as it is not safe to stand on a pool cover. A hose or leaf blower can be useful in clearing debris from an automatic cover where a broom cannot reach. Also, keep the tracks clean and have the motor serviced if needed. Removable covers (non-automatic) can be laid out on the ground for cleaning. Fold and store the cover properly when not in use.

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