By Jason Cramp
Increasingly, pool and spa owners are discovering just how relaxing regular maintenance can be. Spending a quiet Saturday afternoon skimming leaves and twigs from the surface of the water while you work on your tan and enjoy the fresh air is a perfect way to unwind after a hectic week. The following tips cover the basics when it comes to keeping your pool or hot tub clean.
Maintaining your pool involves a few basic tasks such as scrubbing the walls, skimming the water surface and maintaining the water balance. All of these tasks can be completed with an automatic pool cleaner and a good pool maintenance kit containing a chemical test kit, thermometer, brushes, skimmer net, and pool vacuum head for manual models.
On most inground pools the water surface is kept clean with an automatic surface skimmer or overflow gutter around the interior edge of the pool—but don’t rely on this to rid your pool of all surface debris. A sudden gust of wind or rainstorm can quickly cover the pool with leaves, twigs, seeds, pine needles, and insects before the skimmer can remove them.
To handle any accumulation of floating debris, use a leaf net or hand-held skimmer. Made from a polyester mesh screen contained in a plastic frame, leaf nets are easy to use and come with a standard length or telescopic pole that can reach across the width of the pool. Some leaf nets also feature a magnet on the end for collecting coins and other metal objects found at the bottom of the pool.
Unfortunately, debris can pile up inside the pool skimmer even when you use a leaf net, so check the skimmer basket at least once a week (more often during the fall) and remove any debris trapped in the basket to keep the skimmer running at peak efficiency. The strainer basket on your pump should also be regularly checked for lint or hair to prevent it from becoming lodged inside.
Pool-side plants and grass are some of the biggest sources of floating debris so make sure plants are pruned regularly and grass cuttings are collected to reduce the amount of debris that falls into the water.
Keeping deck and patio surfaces clean with a garden hose will also reduce floating debris—but make sure you aim the hose away from the pool.
To keep pool surfaces free from dirt and algae, they should be scrubbed regularly with a brush. Special brushes are available in either standard or telescopic length handles and uses UV-resistant polypropylene bristles that will not scratch vinyl liners.
Special non-abrasive pool cleansers can also be brushed into pool surfaces to remove grease, scale deposits and stains. Unlike household cleansers that may contain foam-causing additives, pool cleansers will not create foam, cloud the water or change the pool’s pH balance. Special cleaners are also available for filters to help prevent clogging caused by oils, algae, or other organic waste.
If your pool water looks cloudy, shocking it with three-to-five times the amount of the normal chlorine or bromine dosage will restore clarity. Shocking also helps kill algae and destroys built-up levels of non-filterable waste such as ammonia. Although pool water should be shocked every seven to 10 days under normal conditions, more frequent treatment is recommended if the pool is used during rainy or humid conditions, during heavy bather loads, or if the water temperature is maintained higher than 26 C (80 F).