Buying Guide

Swimming Pool Maintenance

Basic Pool Care

The first three aspects for swimming pool maintenance are circulation, filtration and cleaning.   

Water circulation is controlled by a pump that should run for a minimum of eight to 12 hours each day. Stagnant water will not be clean no matter how many chemicals are added. These come in varying levels of intensity, but the best pool pump for your pool will force water through the filtration system, then back into the pool once clean.   

Filtration occurs when a filter removes debris suspended in the water so the chemicals can work effectively to keep the water clean. The three most common types of filters are sand, cartridge and DE. Sand is the most popular filter, however, DE and cartridge are growing in popularity because they conserve more water and filter more efficiently. 

Cleaning the pool involves skimming the top of the water, brushing the inside walls of the pool and vacuuming the bottom.   

Tip: When cleaning, people often neglect the pool walls. Do not miss this important step! Compare cleaning your pool walls with brushing your teeth. You can use all the mouthwash you want, but until you brush your teeth, your mouth is still unclean. The same can be said of your pool walls. Until they are scrubbed, the walls can be layered with bacteria and algae biofilm.

Water Treatment

The final aspect of properly caring for your pool is maintaining water chemistry. This ensures clear, safe and comfortable water while protecting your investment of your pool and pool equipment.  

To achieve a healthy mix for your water, you’ll need to undergo these four steps: water balancing, sanitizing, shocking and applying algaecide.

1. Water Balancing


Consistent and frequent water balancing is key to a well-maintained pool. Testing the current water levels will determine your treatment needs and the appropriate actions to take. Test and adjust as necessary to keep your pool water within these ranges to maintain water balance.  

The most important elements of maintaining water balance are correct levels of pH and chlorine.

  • Water balance is affected by everything in the environment, including rain and sunlight. Chlorine breaks down very quickly as a result of the sun. A stabilizer helps protect chlorine from breaking down and extends its lifespan by up to ten times.  
  • For accurate test readings, always obtain your pool water sample from “elbow” depth, away from water return lines. Sunlight and other environmental conditions affect water at the surface and close to water returns. Testing water samples from these areas can provide inaccurate results.  
  • Replace test strips at the beginning of each pool season. Secure the cap after use and store in a cool, dry place. Age, heat and humidity can affect the accuracy of old strips.



  • Frequency: Twice weekly  
  • Pool Type: All types  
  • Ideal Range: 7.2-7.6

 Total Alkalinity

  • Frequency: Monthly  
  • Pool Type: Plaster, gunite, concrete    Vinyl, fiberglass, painted
  • Ideal Range: 80-125 ppm    125-150 ppm

 Total Hardness

  • Frequency: 2-3 times per season  
  • Pool Type: Plaster, gunite, concrete    Vinyl, fiberglass, painted
  • Ideal Range: 200-250 ppm    175-225 ppm


  • Frequency: Twice weekly 
  • Pool Type: All types
  • Ideal Range: 1.0-4.0 ppm


  • Frequency: 2-3 times per season  
  • Pool Type: All types
  • Ideal Range: At least 30 ppm

2. Sanitizing

Sanitizing is most often accomplished with chlorine as it kills bacteria and makes it safe to be in the pool. Most of the time, chlorine is added to the water in one or three-inch tablets that slowly dissolve in the water. Quality tablets provide high levels of chlorine to protect the pool against bacteria and algae growth.   

  • When the heat of summer sets in, it takes more chlorine to maintain the pool than it does in the milder months. Plan accordingly by using more tablets or turning up your chlorinator.

3. Shocking

Shocking is necessary to remove the build-up of used chlorine and other waste in the water. When water has a strong chlorine odor, it turns cloudy and irritates swimmers’ eyes. It is an indication of too much waste in the water and shocking is necessary. Dosage rates and benefits of shock can vary dramatically, so choose one that covers the amount of water in your pool. 

4. Applying Algaecide

If algae is present, or to keep it at bay, algaecide can be applied. Read the directions carefully as many algaecides will require the use of shock in conjunction with the algaecide to be most effective. When dealing with an algae problem, run the pump 24 hours a day until the issue is resolved and clean the filter afterward. 

Salt Water Pool Maintenance

An alternative way of sanitizing a pool is with an electrolytic chlorine generator, more commonly known as a salt pool or salt generator. This sanitizing method is gaining popularity because of its simple and easy upkeep.   

A salt generator basically makes its own sanitizer rather than having to use tablets. A non-chlorine shock oxidizer, pH decreaser, cell protector and stabilizer all help contribute to clean water and a clean pool.   

Another product many salt water pool manufacturers recommend to protect pool equipment is a phosphate remover. It can be used regularly to protect the warranty of your equipment.

Pool Accessories and Safety

Having a variety of pool accessories will make for a more enjoyable pool experience and aid in pool upkeep.  

  • LED pool lights will save you money as they last for years, use less electricity and help lower your electric bills. 
  • Pool fencing will keep out uninvited and roaming animals and help secure your pool when you are not around to supervise small children. 
  • Protect your pool from UV rays and extend the life of the water with a solar blanket cover. These covers retain heat and cut chemical usage by as much as 50 percent. They also stop water evaporation by as much as 60 percent. 
  • Help make your pool maintenance easier with such products as a robotic pool cleaner, jet vacuums and skimmers. 
  • Take your pool enjoyment to the next level with classic pool toys and games. Choose from all-time favorites such as water volleyball, basketball, tubes and floats, noodles and more. Have even more fun in the pool with items such as dual-squirt floats with built-in water guns, aqua-slides, inflatable water wheels and water cannons. 
  • Make sure your children and the neighborhood kids are safe with swimming aids like Coast Guard-approved swim vests, arm floaters, goggles and floatation suits. 
  • Other products, such as kick boards, snorkeling gear and feet fins help children learn to swim while keeping them from sinking under water when used with proper adult supervision.   

Tip: See our guide on how to winterize a pool for cold-weather maintenance information, including how to open a pool and pool closing directions.