Nothing beats a dip in the pool on a hot day. The cares of the day seem to just float away once you're in the water. To truly enjoy your pool, though, you need to maintain it properly. Keeping the pool water from getting cloudy or laced with algae, bacteria, germs and other contaminants is essential. The right routines can keep your pool clean and safe.
Use this guide to learn more about swimming pool maintenance.
Safety Tip: Never leave small children unsupervised in or around a pool. Take proper precautions to ensure no child can enter your pool when you are inside or away from home.
Basic Pool Care
With three basic pool care principles, you can keep your pool clean and in tip-top shape. For proper swimming pool maintenance, focus on good circulation, filtration and a regular cleaning routine. Taking care of your pool is something you can do yourself with the right tools and equipment. You’ll need test kits, a skimming pole, filters and the right water treatments.
Circulation and Filtration
You can’t get stagnant water clean no matter how many swimming pool chemicals you add. Water circulation is key to a sparkling pool. Your pool pump should be set to run for a minimum of eight to 12 hours per day. Pool pumps come in varying levels of intensity. The best models work to force water through the pool filter system. They then push the clean water back into the pool.
Filtration is also important to a sparkling pool. Your pool filter removes debris suspended in the water, allowing pool chemicals to keep the water clean. The three most common types of filters are sand, cartridge and DE filters. Sand is the most popular filter. However, DE and cartridge filters are growing in popularity because they conserve more water and filter more efficiently.
Cleaning and Water Treatments
Cleaning the pool starts with skimming the top of the water for debris. Brushing the inside walls of the pool and vacuuming the bottom of the pool are also essential cleaning tasks. For periodic cleanings, consider adding a pool vacuum to your supplies. You can also rent a pool vacuum from a pool supply store or have a pool cleaning service handle the job for you.
The next step toward keeping your pool water clean is maintaining proper pool chemistry. Achieving a healthy pool chemistry for your inground pool depends on four types of treatment. There’s water balancing, sanitizing, shocking and applying algaecide. Having clear, safe and comfortable pool water means doing one or more of these treatments on a regular basis. Proper water treatment also helps protect the investment you've made in your pool and pool equipment.
Water balancing is essential for a well-maintained pool. Balanced water means that the pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and chlorine levels are right. Water balance changes constantly. It is affected by everything in the environment, including rain and sunlight. Experts recommend using a pool test kit at least once a week.
- Chlorine breaks down very quickly in the sun. A stabilizer helps protect chlorine from breaking down and extends its lifespan by up to 10 times.
- Sunlight and other environmental conditions affect water at the surface and near 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 pool test strips.
- For accurate test readings, use a clean cup or bottle for the pool water sample. Always take the sample away from water return lines. The water should come from below the surface at a level about elbow deep, so you'll have to put your arm in the pool. You can collect a cup of water from the side of the pool. However, the best samples will come from the middle of the pool.
Water Testing Frequency and Ranges
Knowing what to look for is important when testing your swimming pool water. To keep your pool ready to use, test the following:
- Frequency: Twice weekly
- Pool Type: All types
- Ideal Range: 7.2-7.6
- Frequency: Monthly
- Pool Type: Plaster, gunite, concrete, vinyl, painted, fiberglass pool
- Ideal Range: 80-125 ppm, 125-150 ppm
- Frequency: 2 to 3 times per season
- Pool Type: Plaster, concrete, vinyl, painted, fiberglass pool
- 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
Sanitizing your swimming pool water makes it safe for swimming. Sanitization is usually accomplished with chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine. Quality chlorine tablets provide high levels of chlorine to protect the pool against bacteria and algae growth. In most cases, chlorine should be added to the water in 1- or 3-inch tablets that slowly dissolve over time.
When the heat of summer sets in, it takes more chlorine to maintain the pool. Plan accordingly by using more tablets or turning up your chlorinator.
A clean pool should be virtually odor-free. When water has a strong chlorine odor, it turns cloudy and irritates the eyes. This is an indication of too much waste in the water and that shocking is necessary. Pool shock is a type of water treatment product that increases the chlorine level until it’s high enough to remove used chlorine and other wastes. Dosage rates and benefits of shock can vary dramatically. Choose one that covers the water level of your pool.
Algae is a plant that can grow in a pool that has bad circulation or the wrong chlorine levels. Getting rid of algae in your swimming pool can be as simple as using a good algaecide. Just remember to follow the manufacturer's directions carefully.
When dealing with an algae problem, run the pump 24 hours a day until the issue is resolved. You'll also want to clean the pool filter once the algae has been cleared up.
Tip: Many algaecide products require the use of shock in conjunction with the algaecide to be effective. If so, refer to Step 7.
Saltwater Pool Maintenance
If you’d rather not use chlorine, a saltwater pool is a good alternative. An inground pool can use an electrolytic chlorine generator to sanitize the water. This generator is also called a salt pool or salt generator. A salt generator makes its own sanitizer. A non-chlorine shock oxidizer, products that help decrease pH levels, cell protector and pool stabilizer all help contribute to clean water and a clean pool. This sanitizing method is gaining popularity. It is simple to maintain and a good option if you don’t have a lot of time to spend taking care of your pool.
Tip: Many saltwater pool experts also recommend a phosphate remover to protect pool equipment.
Pool Accessories and Extra Equipment
- LED pool lights will save you money as they last for years and use less electricity than non-LED varieties.
- Protect your pool from UV rays and extend the life of the water with a solar blanket pool cover. These pool cover designs retain heat and cut chemical usage by as much as 50 percent. They also stop water evaporation by as much as 60 percent.
- Robotic pool cleaners help make your pool maintenance easier. Jet vacuums and skimmers are popular options.
- 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.
Pool Safety Supplies
- Pool fencing will keep out uninvited and roaming animals and help secure your pool when you are not around to supervise small children.
- Safety vests and floats make sure your children, grandchildren or neighborhood kids are safe. Consider swimming aids like Coast Guard-approved swim vests, arm floaters, goggles and floatation suits.
- Pool alarms will sound when a fence or certain area is breached. Adding a pool alarm is an ideal choice if you have small kids, grandkids or pets at home.
Maintain your pool like a pro with the right tools, treatments and cleaning routines. Make sure your filtration and circulation systems are operating correctly. Having a variety of pool accessories will make for a more enjoyable pool experience and aid in pool upkeep. The right safety equipment will help you minimize accidents so you can enjoy your pool more.
Ready to find chlorine tablets, pool chemicals, test strips and more? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.