Pool of knowledge
When it comes to pool maintenance this summer, a little bit every week goes a long way.
Owning a swimming pool is one of life's greatest luxuries – and one of the biggest investments you're likely to make. Knowing how to properly maintain it will extend its lifespan and ensure it's a safer place for you, your family and your friends.
Here's our top six summer pool care tips:
- Skimming your pool's surface with a long-handled net every few days is one of the fastest and easiest ways to keep your pool clean. Floating debris such as leaves, insects and pet hair not only clogs the filtration system, but it's also harder to remove when it sticks to the pool floor. Regular skimming significantly increases the efficiency of the pool's circulation system and reduces the amount of chlorine you'll need to add to the water. Remember also to check the skimmer box and remove unwanted dirt and debris.
- It's a good idea to vacuum the pool every fortnight during the warmer months, particularly if the kids are inviting their friends over or you find yourself entertaining more than usual. Regardless of whether you have a manual cleaner or a self-cleaning system, ensure that the entire pool gets covered. Brushing the walls and waterline tiles helps reduce algae build-up and calcium deposits, so use a firm brush for plaster-lined concrete pools and a softer brush for vinyl or fibreglass constructions. For glass or mosaic tiles, use a soft brush to prevent damaging the grout.
- Testing the quality of your pool water is possibly one of the most important requirements of owning a pool. There is an extensive range of manual and digital test kits available from all pool shops but what you are looking for is the following three factors:
- The pH scale is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity that runs from 0 to 14. A reading between 7.2 and 7.8 is ideal; this range is safe for swimmers and helps sanitisers work at top efficiency
- Alkalinity is a measurement of all the carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides and other alkaline substances found in the pool water. The total alkalinity range for chlorine disinfection should be 60 to 200mg/L and is adjusted by using sodium bicarbonate as advised by the supplier; and calcium hardness, which is often measured by how 'soft' or 'hard' the water is. The ideal range of calcium hardness is 150 to 400mg/L
Even better, why not take your pool water sample into your local Swimart store so they can run a computerised test on it free of charge!
- If your pool is used heavily, or there have been large amounts of rain or hot, sunny weather, then your pool may need to be superchlorinated – or shocked – back to normal chlorine levels. This basically means drastically raising the chlorine level of the swimming pool for a short time, to a high enough level that the combined chlorine is burned up. Some pools should be superchlorinated once a week, while others can go a significantly longer time – so follow manufacturers' instructions before shock dosing your pool to get the best results.
- The purpose of the pool filter, be it sand, cartridge, glass or diatomaceous earth (DE), is to trap suspended particles and stop them getting back into the pool. Consequently, it's important that the efficiency of the filter is not impaired. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and backwash it (i.e. reverse the flow and drain the dirt that has accumulated on the top of the media to waste). This should be done at least once a month, but watch the pressure gauge and do it more often if necessary.
- If you plan to go away during the school holidays, or find yourself too busy to use the pool this summer, then it's a good idea to bring out the pool cover. Also known as pool blankets, covers save water by reducing evaporation and heat loss, plus they keep leaves and other debris out of your pool. They also help preserve the chemical balance of your pool's water and helps keep the pool cleaner in good condition, saving you time and money. Of course you could use Swimart's in-home service to ensure your pool is in tip top condition!