You’ve installed your dream pool, it looks amazing and it’s all set up and ready to go. But what about keeping it clean? Never maintained a pool before? Well, there’s no need to worry because we have put together an easy to follow guide for beginners, that will keep your pool looking fabulous year-round.
It doesn’t matter what type of pool you have, they all require routine maintenance to some degree, well, that is if you want to keep your pool clean of course and keep you pool equipment in optimal working order. Our cleaning and care tips will explain everything you need to know about how your pool works and how to take care of it.
The main parts of your pool
Before we get started, it’s a good idea to know your pools basic parts and their function before diving into more complex maintenance information that you need to know. There are 4 main components to your pool, and all of these require regular care to keep your pool clean. These include:
- Your filtration system
- The interior surface of your pool
- Skimmer and returns
- Your pool water
1 Your filtration system
The filter system in your pool is the powerhouse of your whole pool setup. This is what circulates your water and keeps your pool clean. The pool pump propels the water to circulate towards the pool filter. The filter will then collect any dirt or debris that are in your pool water.
Put simply, the filter keeps your water safe for you to swim in and free of contaminants that can build up in your pool. If you didn’t have a filter, your pool would become polluted from algae and bacteria quite quickly. There are many different filters on the market, saltwater chlorinators, cartridge filters and sand filters are some of the more common types.
2 The interior surface of your pool
The walls of our pool are in constant contact with water and if you have a chemical imbalance this will result in algae and bacteria building up on the surface of your pool. If is a good idea to give the walls a good scrub with a pool brush every second week to stop these contaminants from growing. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there is alternatives to doing it manually, such as an automatic robot cleaner or a self-cleaning pool.
3 Skimmers and returns
The next important part of your pool cleaning system is the returns and skimmers. Skimmers are rectangular shaped holes that are built into the side of your pool, they draw pool water in, push it through the filter to clean it. The returns are the components that sends your clean water back to your pool. It is important to clear these parts of debris and dirt regularly to ensure the water flows properly. If this is neglected, it will most likely result in dirty pool water. To keep them running at their best, it is recommended to backwash these parts at least one a week. The cleaner they are, the better they will work.
4 Your pool water
When starting your pool maintenance journey, the thought of up keeping the correct chemical balance of the water might seem like an overwhelming task, however, water balancing kits are user friendly and are great for all people, even those with little knowledge of water chemistry. They can make your life a whole lot easier when maintaining the correct chemical balance of your water.
Here are some water chemistry terms you should know to keep your pool clean:
- pH level – The pH level determines how acidic or alkaline your pool water is. The pH of your pool should be between 7.2 to 7.8. Closer to 7.2 is preferable to avoid eye and skin discomfort. This also ensures your pool equipment is protected from corrosion.
- Sanitisation and Chlorine – Chlorine sanitises your pool water to keep it healthy and free from contaminants such as algae and bacteria. Chlorine levels should be between 1ppm and 3ppm (parts per million).
- Alkalinity – Alkalinity keeps the pH level of your pool water balanced, ideally it should be between 60ppm to 120ppm.
- Calcium hardness – The calcium hardness levels of your water should sit between 220ppm and 350ppm. This is necessary to prevent damage to the surface of your pool.
- Cyanuric Acid – Cyanuric Acid stabilisers the chlorine in your pool and shields it from sunlight. The level should be between 30ppm and 50ppm.
The easiest way to maintain these levels to ensure your pool stays clear is by using a water testing kit. They come with separate containers for each test. You fill the container with pool water, the water will then change colour. You can compare this with the chart provided in the kit to determine what your levels are, this will indicate if your need to change something or not.
To keep on top your water levels, it is best to check them every week. A lot of rain can change the levels of your water substantially and turn your water to a cloudy colour.
How to clean your filter system
It is important to clean your filter and skimmer basket each week. If these are dirty your system cannot run to its full potential. So how do you clean these? First, turn your filter off and remove the filter cap. Remove the filter basket, then empty and clean. Once you have done this, put it together again and switch it back on. You should backwash your system each month. You can do this by removing the basket and switching the filter to the backwash setting. Backwashing works by propelling water in the opposite way that it normally goes. If there is any leaves or dirt in there, they will go to waste port of the pool. Keep this running until the water is entirely clear. Once the water is clear, turn the filter off, return it to its normal setting and put the basket back into the filter.
To keep your pool clean and healthy, the water should be circulated constantly to avoid algae and bacteria from growing. Your pump and filter system should run every day for a minimum of 10 to 12 hours, this is enough time to circulate your water adequately. If your circulation system is maintained correctly, you will avoid contaminants polluting your pool.
Keeping your pool clean
Cleaning your pool often is a big component of pool maintenance. You can keep on top of your pool maintenance manually, with a pool scoop to remove leaves, bugs and debris. Scrubbing the interior surface of your pool with a pool brush will help prevent and remove algae and bacteria. Most pool owners choose to have an automatic robotic pool cleaner as they take care of most of this for you.
Setting time aside each week to skim, brush and vacuum, will keep your pool nice and clean. If you have a spot of algae on the interior surface of your fibreglass pool that is troublesome to shift, you can make up a paste consisting of baking soda and water mixed together. Rub the paste into the spot to remove.
Sometimes oils from the skin, sunscreen and hair products can leave an oily layer on the surface of your pool. Here are some handy tips using some unlikely household items you might have laying around that can help with this.
- Placing standard tennis balls in your pool and allowing them to float will suck up extra oils and chemicals that you don’t need or want in your pool. Contaminants such as dirt and residue will stick to the tennis balls. You can leave them in your pool indefinitely and replace them when they get too dirty.
- A pair of stockings wrapped around your skimmer basket can collect even the tiniest of particles.
If you haven’t already, purchasing an automatic pool cleaner will save you a great deal of time when it comes to cleaning your pool. Ensuring your pool cleaner reaches the entire surface of your pool, will save you time doing it manually.
What supplies do you need to maintain your pool?
Here are few supplies that you can use in your cleaning routine. They will keep your pool in tip top shape no matter the season.
- Sanitisers– The two most popular sanitisers used for cleaning pools are chlorine and salt. Whether you have a saltwater pool or traditional chlorine, both use chlorine to sanitise the water. The difference is, rather than using high doses of concentrated chlorine to keep your pool clean, salt is used, and a salt chlorine generator system converts it to chlorine. Depending which pool water you have will determine which sanitising agent you should use.
- Stabilisers and Balancing Chemicals – A necessary part of pool maintenance is adding and checking the water balancing chemicals. There are many things that can alter the chemical level of your water such as rain, sun, oils etc so it best to check them every week with a test kit. Stabilisers work to stabilise the chlorine so that its sanitising effects last longer and save you money.
- Shock – Every now and then, you will need to shock your pool, especially if a lot of people have been using it or after heavy rain. This is where you use more than a normal amount of chlorine, generally 1 litre is used to begin with. It is always best to shock your pool in the evening or at night, it won’t be as effective if it is done during the day as ultraviolet rays from the sun eat up the chlorine before it has had a chance to work. Once you’ve added the shock to your pool, ensure your pump runs for at least 8 hours to circulate the water fully. It is best not to swim in the water for approximately 12-24 hours after doing a shock.
- Chemical testing kit – The easiest way to keep your pool looking great is by keeping track of the chemical levels with a chemical kit. They are easy to use and can quickly tell you of any imbalances you may have, allowing you adjust them if necessary.
- Algaecides – Algaecides kill algae and prevent it from growing in your pool. Warm, stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and algae. Algaecides are relatively inexpensive and when used in conjunction with your filtration system you can avoid unsightly algae in your pool water.
- Stain Prevention and Removal – You may notice some water lines or coloured stains on the side of your pool. Using a stain removal chemical can remove them. Stains are generally caused by hard metals in the water such as copper, iron, or silver. The colour of the stain can indicate which type of metal is in your water. Applying a stain removing chemical will remove any stains and stain prevention chemicals work to keep stains at bay.
A quick guide to common issues you may come across
There are many reasons your pool might not be clear, here are some common ones you should know of.
Your pool is cloudy
If you pool water is cloudy, it’s a good idea to test the pool chemistry to figure out if any of your levels are off. If your chemical levels are imbalanced, adjust them accordingly to see if this helps, if not, you might want to check your filters. Hose them off and check for any obstructions, if your filter has been blocked this will prevent it from running correctly. If you have done all of this and you are still having problems with cloudy water, using a pool clarifier can help when used each week after cleaning. Pool clarifiers wok by clumping together small particles making it easy for them to be filtered out.
You can prevent algae from growing in your pool by shocking it regularly. Scrubbing the walls of your pool with a pool brush will remove any algae spores you are unable see with the naked eye. After shocking your pool, it is always best to treat your water with an algaecide. If algae is still an issue you can try shocking your pool twice and ensuring that you scrub and vacuum after doing so.
Pool water that is green
If your pool has turned green, it is a sign that your pool has an algae infestation. You can remove it by shocking your pool and brushing the walls with a pool brush. This may take a few attempts to rectify. The great thing about fibreglass pools are they are smooth and non-porous making them virtually algae and bacteria resistant! This shouldn’t be a persistent problem if you have a Barrier Reef swimming pool.
Foam in your pool water
There a few things that can cause your pool water to have foam in it.
The most common culprits are shampoos and body products as well as too much algaecide and cheap chemicals. Have a look on the label of your algaecide, it needs to say “non-foaming” if it doesn’t, this is the most likely cause. If this is not the reason, it might be an idea to tell your pool guests to restrain from wearing creams, lotions etc before jumping in the pool. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to check your chemical levels just to make sure everything is in check as an imbalance could also be the cause.
Stains on your pool
Stains can come from all different sources, but the main ones are from organic matter and heavy metals in the water. Metal stains are generally easy enough to get rid of if your remove them as soon as they appear. Stains that are caused from organic matter and algae can be removed quickly by placing chlorine on the area and scrubbing with a brush. If you have a substantial amount of staining in your pool, brushing and shocking your pool regularly can help. Using a stain prevention chemical frequently can eliminate this all together.
All ready to maintain your pool?
So now that you’ve learnt a thing or two about your pool and how it works, are you ready to take the plunge and maintain your pool? Sure, calling in pool professionals is always an option, but if maintaining your pool was something you wanted to take of, we hope this guide has given you the confidence to do it yourself. If you have any questions regarding the maintenance of your pool, our experienced team is happy to help, give our friendly team at Barrier Reef Pools a call today.