Whether you recently bought a house with a swimming pool, just had a pool installed or have been the proud owner of a pool for a while, there’s always something new to learn! However, those who think they know all there is to know about pool maintenance may have picked up some misinformation or bad habits over time, or just assumed that their way was the right way! Whatever the case, it’s time to follow the righteous path to increase your pool’s useful life, and decrease wear-and-tear on your pool and pool equipment.
Avoid these following 10 common pool maintenance mistakes, and enjoy your slice of Central Florida paradise to the max for many years to come!
Adding shock directly into the pool
Pool shock is basically concentrated chlorine. At high strength, chlorine can bleach anything that enters your pool – including swimsuits. If your pool has a vinyl liner, adding shock directly to the water can do serious damage. Instead of dissolving, the shock granules will sink to the bottom of the pool and bleach out the liner. The bleached area eventually becomes brittle and frail, resulting in leaks.
Solution – PoolSupplies recommends dissolving your pool shock in a separate container, creating a slurry. However, take the following precautions to prevent injury: Always fill the container with water before adding chemicals. Doing it in the opposite order could result in splashback, toxic gas or even an explosion. Direct contact with chlorine water at this high concentration can cause chemical burns. According to the CDC, pool chemical injuries lead to about 4,500 U.S. emergency department visits each year. Wear protective eyewear, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical mask.
Ignoring pH and alkalinity levels
Your swimming pool is more than a source of fun and recreation – it’s a delicate ecosystem! Keeping tabs on the water’s pH and alkalinity levels to make sure they’re in balance is essential. “A low pH indicates acidity, while a high one indicates alkalinity,” says Matt Giovanisci, CEO of Swim University. “Too much of either is bad news.”
For those who might have missed class the day this was taught in school, pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. The lower the pH of your pool water, the more acidic it is. This may seem like a good thing, since a high acid level deters the growth of algae and makes your pool water sparkle. However, a low pH level can damage your pool equipment – including the pump and filter, vinyl liner, automatic pool cleaner, maintenance equipment, chemical feeder, etc. Basically, anything that water comes into contact with over a long period of time.
Solution – Balancing acidity and alkalinity keeps your pH stable. Because environmental conditions can change water chemistry at any time, test your pool water regularly, then adjust its levels as needed with pH increaser, alkalinity increaser and other necessary chemicals until everything is back in balance.
Not leveraging the calcium hardness in your pool water
Maintaining the right calcium level in your pool water is as important as balancing its pH level. Though too much calcium hardness can make your pool water cloudy, a bit of hardness is essential, as it helps to increase the lifespan of vinyl liner, fiberglass, concrete and plaster pools – as well as filters.
Solution – Add a calcium hardness increaser to keep your level in the right range. The recommended level is 175 ppm (parts per million) to 225 ppm and 200 ppm to 275 ppm for plaster and concrete pools. Add to your pool water at the beginning of the swim season, then check throughout, since evaporation and splash out can drop the levels too low. For those who use calcium hypochlorite shock, a bit of calcium is automatically added each time you shock your pool.
Not testing your pool water weekly
Central Florida summer weather is unpredictable in a predictable way – hot days punctuated by afternoon thunderstorms. In recent years, however, we’ve had a few dry days between the deluges. Intense sunlight, heat and heavy rainfall all affect pool water chemistry on a daily basis. If you’re not checking at least once a week – preferably more frequently – levels will get out of balance, and will be even harder to get back into balance.
Solution – Use either a liquid test kit or test strips, and check pH, alkalinity, chlorine, calcium hardness, iron, copper and salt levels. Set a reminder so you do it consistently.
Not brushing your pool
Vacuuming your pool is important, but it is just as important to brush your pool. As PoolSupplies notes, “Your pool needs a good brushing every now and again to prevent scum and algae from building up and ruining your pool. Just like brushing and flossing your teeth, you will need to follow vacuuming your pool with a good brushing.”
Solution – Use a wide, heavy-duty pool brush to reach hard-to-find areas. Focus on areas such as the ladder, steps, waterline, stairs, corners and crevices.
Using an automatic pool cleaner to deal with algae
Your robotic pool cleaner may be good at vacuuming up basic debris, but don’t count on it to do the heavy lifting of algae removal. As Giovanisci observes, a pressure-side automatic pool cleaner will push algae up its mesh bag and give it a nice tour of your pool, but won’t eliminate it. “The clogged gunk gets blown around the pool, and you’re back to square one,” he says.
Solution – Switching to manual vacuuming is the best way to get rid of this problem. Make sure to remove the drain plug or switch your filter to waste. The process does waste a fair amount of water, but it also flushes out algae.
Backwashing your pool filter too often
Backwashing cleans the media inside your filter, whether it’s sand or diatomaceous earth (D.E.). Pool water washes gunk out of your filter media, then exits through your filter’s backwash valve drain port. It is an important part of basic pool care, but overdoing it is one of the more common pool maintenance mistakes.
Solution – Take note of the pressure gauge on your filter tank right after backwashing. In most cases, it will read between 10 and 15 pounds per square inch (psi), which is the appropriate baseline for optimal filter performance. The more debris caught by your filter, the better your filter will function – up to a point. Extra debris helps trap finer particles, but the benefits vanish once the build-up raises your pressure reading to around 10 psi over your baseline (i.e., 20 psi-25 psi). Therefore, backwash only when you see the pressure rise to around 10 psi beyond the normal range.
Running the pool filter fewer than eight hours a day
Your pool’s filter needs to run if you want it to perform its job. If you don’t allow your pool filter to run the minimum number of hours a day, it can’t keep your pool water clean. Leaving your pool’s filter off for prolonged periods of time will cause more gunk and debris to infiltrate.
Solution – Let your filter and pump run for at least eight hours every day. Your filter needs ample time for all the water to pass through to keep your pool clear, and eight hours is the minimum amount of time it should be operating. Of all the pool maintenance mistakes, this one’s the easiest to avoid!
Not cleaning your pool filter
Not cleaning your pool filter can cause your equipment to break down faster. The filter will clog with debris and other contaminants – and in turn increases the psi, which puts more pressure on the pump, causing it to become less effective.
Solution – Sand filters work best when they are slightly dirty, but replace them every three to six months. You also need to change the filter cartridge between six and 24 months.
Not cleaning up after pets or a pool party
We love our pets, and we love our friends. Unfortunately, when they enjoy your pool, they also add contaminants and gunk that gets the water chemistry out of balance and can clog drains. Animal fur and body oils, human hair, hair care products, suntan/sunblock lotion, mosquito repellent, etc., all go into the water. Not to mention the indelicate fact that dogs don’t use toilet paper, and you maybe can’t depend on certain younger guests to wait until they reach the bathroom to attend to their needs.
Solution – According to Ideal Pools, Inc., algae growth tends to be a serious complication following a party without proper clean-up. Test your pool chemistry after the party, or the next morning, at the latest. “Even if the chemistry seems fine, it’s a good idea to brush the pool if you have the time, or throw in a potent algaecide to minimize the threat.” Parties aside, pet parents who let their fur babies splash around in the pool need to use water clarifiers to keep the pH in balance. Be sure to clean your pool’s filter the following morning, after the loose fur has had time to collect.
The Take-Home Message
A swimming pool is a great amenity, but requires attention and consistent maintenance to keep in top condition over the long term. Our blog post – “Why Swimming Pool Maintenance is Important” – covers in detail the tasks to perform for optimum daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual upkeep.
While Certified Leak Detection doesn’t perform swimming pool maintenance, we want you to get the most from your backyard oasis! We know that nothing spoils your enjoyment of your pool more than a leak. Certified Leak Detection uses technology and techniques we have developed over 20 years in business. In addition to quick detection of pool leaks, we provide industry-leading leak detection for spas, hot tubs and fountains. Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call. Contact us for quick, reliable service!