Easy Guide to Pool Maintenance for Beginners

Whether you have an inground swimming pool or a more affordable above-ground pool, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some simple maintenance if you want the pool and the pool water looking their best throughout the season.

Now, in order to formulate an effective cleaning strategy, it pays to have a thorough understanding about how your pool is configured. Knowing the core components of your pool and how they work will ensure you keep things running smoothly with as little effort as possible.

I. Main Components of a Swimming Pool

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Swimming pools come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s part of the beauty. You can easily create the pool environment of your dreams, as long as you have the cash for the build and installation.

Regardless of whether you have a sprawling in-ground pool for swimming laps, or a dinky above-ground pool for the kids to paddle in, residential swimming pools have the following components as standard:

  • Pool water
  • Interior wall or liner
  • Pool filter system
  • System of skimmers and returns

Pool water

The water in your pool is crucial to overall pool health and happy swimming pool ownership.

You’ll need to keep this water clean and clear – check out how to clear green pool water if you’re struggling with an algae attack – so you keep yourself and your family protected from any pollutants and contaminants.

Buy staying on top of pool water chemistry, you’ll also reduce the cost of hardware repairs or replacement. Imbalanced pool chemistry puts undue strain on your pool equipment due to minerals accumulating and corroding your gear.

Interior wall or liner

The walls of the liner in your swimming pool are in continuous contact with the water, as well as everything else that enters your pool. Using an effective pool cover will minimize the amount of debris that makes its way into the water.

Beyond this, you’ll need to make sure all the pool walls have surfaces free of debris, mold, and algae.

Pool filter system

Your pool filter is crucial to overall pool health, too. Your pool pump will draw in water so the pool water circulates properly, while the filter works to eliminate all the contaminants from that water.

Both the pump and the filter play their part in keeping your pool safe from harm. If your filtration system starts functioning inefficiently, you’ll soon end up with cloudy pool water that’s polluted and effectively unswimmable.

There are many types of pool filter, including:

  • Sand filter
  • Cartridge filter
  • DE (diatomaceous earth) filter

Salt water systems come with salt water chlorinators.

System of skimmers and returns

If you consider the pool’s filter is the liver of the system, the skimmers and the returns can be viewed as the arteries and veins of the pool.

Pool skimmers pull water into the filter where it’s cleaned. Pool returners, as the name hints, push the newly cleaned water back into your pool. Just like the veins and arteries running around your body, the skimmer and return in your pool will both work most efficiently when they’re free of obstructions and blockages.

Since no two swimming pools are exactly alike, you’ll be sure to encounter maintenance challenges specific to your pool over time. As long as you have a clear understanding of the above fundamentals, though, you’ll be perfectly placed to cope with most pool upkeep issues that come your way.


II. Pool Maintenance the Easy Way

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Proper pool maintenance can be cleaved into three main areas:

  1. Circulation
  2. Cleaning
  3. Chemistry

So, to keep your pool looking at its best, you’ll need to make certain the water is moving and filtered as it should be, while also ensuring any debris is cleaned up, and the pool water chemistry is balanced.

The first step, then, is to focus on keeping your pool water circulating properly.

1) Circulation

Pool-water-filtration-system.-Pure-water.-View-from-above

The reason pool maintenance starts with circulation is because if the water isn’t moving, either your pump isn’t pumping, or perhaps your filter isn’t filtering properly. Either way, you’ll be facing an uphill struggle to keep the water clean as stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for algae to proliferate.

The circulatory system of your pool is comprised of several different components:

  • Pump
  • Filter
  • Skimmer
  • Jets

If you find any of these elements are impeded, overall water quality will suffer as a result.

Here’s how your pool system ensures the water is circulating properly:

  1. The pump sucks water from the swimming pool through a skimmer
  2. Water then travels through the pool pump and into the filter
  3. The filter will clean any particles that are dirtying up your pool water
  4. Water is then pushed back into the swimming pool via the pool jets

Now, to stay on top of pool water circulation, consider the following:

  • Run your pool pump for 8 to 12 hours each day
  • Backwash your filter when required
  • Clean the skimmer basket once or twice a week
  • Angle the pool jets

Run your pool pump for 8 to 12 hours each day

Running a pool filter 24/7 is not only costly but not always necessary. That said, the more your filtration system is running, the less time you’ll be spending taking care of algae or working to restore the balance in your pool water.

Aim for running your pool pump somewhere from 8 to 12 hours a day. If you live somewhere with an especially warm climate, considering running the pump for slightly longer. If you’re concerned about running costs, look for a variable-speed pool pump. This will save you money and energy while also making less noise.

Backwash your filter when required

When you notice the filter gauge reading 10 psi or more above normal, it’s time to backwash the filter.

The exception to this is a filter cartridge which will need cleaning rather than backwashing.

Clean the skimmer basket once or twice a week

Keeping the skimmer basket and the pump basket clean is vital for overall pool health. When these baskets are clogged, your pump is forced to work harder in an attempt to cycle the water. This can decrease the lifespan of your pump by stressing the seals.

Beyond this, frogs and other small creatures can easily get tangled up in the skimmer.

To clean your skimmer basket, just switch off the pool pump, empty the basket under the lid of the skimmer, and replace it to complete the simple task. Once or twice weekly should suffice.

You should also occasionally clean the basket on your pool pump. The skimmer catches the vast bulk of debris, so you shouldn’t need to clean this basket often.

Angle the pool jets

You should make certain the jets in your pool point away from the skimmer. This helps the water to cycle in a circle. By encouraging the water to rotate like this, your skimmer will find it easier to get rid of any debris.

Also, angle the jets down so the bottom of the swimming pool gets plenty of circulation, too.

Finally, angle the jets into any areas of the pool that struggle to get enough water circulating, the steps and ladders, for example.

2) Cleaning

Cleaner-of-the-swimming-pool

If your pool water is properly circulated, you’re off to a strong start.

Next, you’ll need to make sure you have the following equipment:

  • Pool brush
  • Pool vacuum
  • Net skimmer

All types of foreign agents enter your pool, brought inside by the elements and by those using the pool. From leaves and mold to the residues from scents and shampoos, your pool water is constantly assaulted by debris of all natures.

Also, swimming pool water is at risk of bacterial contamination, so there’s no substitute for properly cleaning the pool.

Skim and brush the walls of your swimming pool at least once a week, and then vacuum then when you’re done. This will keep most debris out of the water and the walls spotless. You can use a paste of baking soda to clean delicate pool tiles or vinyl pool liner without damaging them.

If you invest in an automatic pool cleaner, you’ll reduce your cleaning time dramatically. This won’t completely eliminate the need for skimming and brushing, but it will streamline both of these tasks, giving you more time to relax on a sun lounger with your cocktail and a good book.

Try adding a few tennis balls to the basket of your skimmer. Alternatively, toss a few balls into the pool. These will absorb some of the surface oils that cosmetics and sun lotion leaves behind.

For in-ground pools, the integrated drains at the bottom of the deep end help to pull water through into the filter. To achieve a similar effect in an above-ground pool, use a manual pool vacuum. Attach this to the filter system in your pool and pop it into the middle of your pool with the vacuum upside down. When you switch on the vacuum, it will serve as a main drain, encouraging cloudy water to clear more efficiently.

3) Chemistry

Water-Testing-pH

You should test the chemistry of your pool water once or twice a week.

Use pool shock once every two weeks.

If your pool water is properly balanced, there is much less chance of the following issues:

  • Green water
  • Cloudy water
  • Harmful bacteria accumulating

To help you stay on top of pool chemistry, you’ll need to invest in a decent pool testing kit.

Testing the pool water and balancing the chemicals

Test the water in your swimming pool weekly.

By opting for a store-bough testing kit, you’ll be able to see at a glance whether you need to add any pool chemicals to recalibrate the water balance.

Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind:

  • pH level: You should aim for pool pH levels around 7.5. If pH levels are too high or too low, this can trigger myriad issues, from increased growth of green algae to the corrosion of your pool equipment
  • Calcium hardness: Look for around 200 to 400 parts per million (ppm) of calcium in your pool water. If calcium hardness levels are excessively low, this can damage vinyl liners and pool plaster. If calcium hardness levels are too high, on the other hand, you’ll end up with calcium deposits on your pool that are tough to remove
  • Chlorine: Chlorine for your swimming pool is available in tablet, granule, or stick form. Chlorine helps to break down potentially harmful bacteria, and it also serves to sanitize your pool water
  • Alkalinity: Aim for total alkalinity between 120 and 150 ppm. If levels dip below this, your pool’s pH levels can be impacted. When alkalinity is too high, by contrast, pool water tends to become cloudy
  • Phosphates: If you have green and cloudy water in your swimming pool, it could be that phosphate levels are too high. If you have too many phosphates present, more algae grows, and this makes it tougher to maintain proper pool chemistry.

Shocking the pool water

Once every week or two, you should use some pool shock.

When you shock your pool water, you are overloading it with sanitizer to drive off any organic matter, contaminants, and bacteria.

As a general guideline, the more you use your pool, the more frequently you should use pool shock.

You should also shock your pool water as standard in the following circumstances:

  • After a period of heavy and sustained use
  • Following an intense rainstorm
  • After a breakout of algae
  • Following a spill
  • After an unexpected contamination

Remember to always shock your swimming pool at night. If you apply pool shock during the day, it will only eat up the chlorine before it has time to take effect.

Add some pool shock to your water and then let the pump run for at least eight hours. This should ensure that the water is not only sanitized, but also properly and efficiently circulated.


III. Pool Maintenance when the Pool is Not in Use

Unless you live along the equator, you’ll likely be swimming more at some times of the year than others.

Unless you have your pool open year round, swimming season typically extends from spring until fall, with the bulk of pools closed over winter.


IV. How to Winterize Your Swimming Pool

If you’re new to the world of swimming pool ownership, you’ll soon discover that having a pool at home might be rewarding, but it’s certainly not a set-and-forget business.

If you get to the end of swimming season and simply leave your pool until spring, you’ll return to a terrible mess that calls for extended cleaning when the new season arrives. Avoid this.

All you need to do to close or winterize your pool is follow these simple steps:

  1. Deep clean your pool. This should include backwashing the pool filter and shocking the water
  2. Reduce the water level in the pool. The amount of water reduction will vary depending on what type of pool cover you have in place
  3. Install your swimming pool cover

You may still need to perform a little light maintenance over the winter, like running the pump from time to time.

If you take care of the above steps, though, you’ll find opening up your pool in the spring is a much quicker and easier process.


V. What Should You Do with Your Pool When You’re On Vacation?

Service-and-maintenance-of-the-pool.-Man-cleans-the-pool

One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Wild River Country concerns what you can do if you’re going away on an extended vacation and you have a home swimming pool to consider.

If you’re heading away from home for a prolonged spell, take care of the following:

  • Close the swimming pool. Doing this before you leave will make caring for the pool in your absence more manageable
  • Get a pool timer. Your pool will still need running when you’re away, and a timer will ensure this gets done hands-free

Failing this, you’ll need to ask friends and family to step in.


VI. Conclusion

We very much hope today’s guide to pool maintenance has cleared up some of the basics of pool upkeep for you.

By focusing firmly on the way the pool water circulates, by keeping the water clean, and by ensuring the chemistry is in balance, you’re assured of a pool that’s inviting to dive in all year round.

As with most things in life, if you stay on top of pool maintenance, you’ll end up with much less work to do each time. Neglect it and you not only make your life harder, but you’ll also burden your pool equipment and risk shortening its lifespan.

We have a busy content calendar lined up for the rest of the summer and lots of informative guides coming your way. Take a moment to bookmark Wild River Country before you head off, and we’ll see you very soon!

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