When the sun is high in the sky and the wind feels like a blow dryer on your face, there’s nothing like the blessed cool blue of your private pool. If you’ve only just recently become a pool owner, you may be weighing your options: should you hire someone to juggle your pool chores or can you do this one yourself? Taking care of a pool isn’t hard, provided you’ve got a checklist to follow (just so you don’t miss a step).
Your Pool Maintenance Attack Plan
Most pools don’t require a lot of care, but if you don’t keep up with a regular maintenance schedule those tiny jobs can easily snowball into a giant one — or a big pile of broken pool equipment. Neither one is an awesome future prospect.
Instead of a looming disaster, you can look forward to plenty of happy years floating without a care in the world while drinking pink lemonade on your unicorn raft with a simple checklist that looks like this:
Scoop out floating debris. Grab that long-handled glorified fish net and scoop out anything that’s floating in your pool without authorization. That may include leaves, tree bark, insects or your neighbor’s menacing little YorkiPoo.
Check water level. Pool water isn’t special, it evaporates in the heat just like other water. If it’s been raining a lot your water level might be too high for your equipment to run properly. Either way, a quick visual can help you tell if the water’s in the right place. Adjust as needed.
Clean out the basket. You can’t just sweep all the pool debris into the basket and hope no one notices. When the basket is full, your water circulation is limited, just like when a filter is dirty. So, grab it, shake it out, spray it clean, stick it back in. Bada-boom, bada-bing.
Vacuum the pool bottom. Remember that debris you were supposed to scoop out most every day (and may have neglected a bit)? Well, you get one more chance at it today. Pick one day a week to really clean your pool with the pool vacuum. It’ll help prevent staining and keep your water cleaner.
Swab the deck. The grime and dirt on your pool deck isn’t magic dust that just stays on land. Oh no, it’ll end up in your pool, in your pool filter and in your fruity drinks if it’s just left to its own devices. Keep your deck clean!
Check pool chemistries. Your pool is a complicated stew of H, O and lots of impurities. Some of these are not awesome for you and your health, others are just really not great for your equipment. Regular chemistries can tell you the situation when it comes to pH, total chlorine, alkalinity, calcium and cyanuric acid. Don’t forget to figure in the saturation index (or grab an app that can do it for you).
Shock the pool. Just like Peter Gabriel had to Shock the Monkey, you need to shock your pool water on the regular. Since it’s not an actual free-flowing water source like a stream or even a lake, it’s easy for algae, bacteria and other microscopic critters to grow. Raising the chlorine level to 5 or 10 ppm will kill off what ails you. A DPD test kit can help detect levels of combined chlorine — you can break it up by shocking the water to a level 10 times the tested level when combined chlorine exceeds 0.3 ppm.
Look for tears in the liner. A torn liner is not a great time for a pool owner. You’ll be leaking water if you don’t fix it up straight away. Vinyl pools can be a great option for many homeowners, but they come with a hidden cost — the effort it takes to patch them and keep ahead of any holes that may appear.
Clean your filter. This may need to be done more often than once a month, but cleaning that pool filter is everything. When your pressure gauge is 5 to 10 psi higher than normal, it’s time to improve the water flow by getting all the debris out of the filter. How you clean it will depend on the type of filter you have.
Clean the pump room. Your pump room is where all the real action takes place. Whether it’s part of a pool house, a kitchy cabana or under a plain little cover, keep it clean and free of debris in case you have to take the pump or other equipment apart in a hurry.
Clean your skimmer. Using a scrubbing sponge and soap, clean the scum and dirt out of the skimmer’s throat and well. Keeping the skimmer sparkling clean means your pool’s water line will stay cleaner, too.
Check all pump seals and safety equipment. Your pump, filter and safety equipment like ladders and railings all need to be in good working order all the time. Check each item, tightening bolts or replacing parts when wear begins to show. While you’re at it, make sure your pool gate latches properly to avoid potential future issues.