If you’re like most Central Florida pool owners, you consider your pool to be a combination oasis and personal resort. Before you installed a swimming pool or bought a house with one, you probably envisioned the luxury of carefree fun times with family and friends, as well as the benefits of healthy – yet enjoyable – exercise. All in the privacy of your backyard, of course!
After a while, however, reality set in. Every swimming pool, regardless of its type, can develop issues that are not at all fun to resolve. Here are nine common problems to watch out for, and how to address or prevent them. We thank the experts at Absolute Pool & Spa Care, Backyard & Pool Superstore, In the Swim, Latham, National Pools & Spas and Swim University for their advice and recommendations!
- Green Water
If the color of your swimming pool’s water changes from blue to green overnight, the cause is most likely algae. An algae bloom can occur in a matter of hours when conditions are right, such as the following:
- Poor water circulation – low flow or dead spots in the pool.
- Poor water balance – pH, alkalinity, calcium and cyanuric levels.
- Poor water sanitation – low or inconsistent chlorine levels.
- Poor water filtration – short filter run times or an ineffective filter.
Your pool will need to be shocked to kill the algae – followed by brushing the walls and all pool surfaces to remove the dead algae, then vacuuming in order to return your pool to normal. The pool will not be usable until you finish the process.
Prevent algae blooms by keeping up with testing and treating your pool’s water on a regular basis. It’s easy to get off schedule, so put this on your calendar, or hire a pool maintenance service. As for such factors as water circulation and filtration, our blog post – “Why Swimming Pool Maintenance is Important” – covers these topics in detail.
- Cloudy Water
If you’re ready for a dip, but find that your pool’s water looks like a fog settled in, a build-up of bacteria is the culprit. As with algae, the likely cause is skipped testing that would have shown the pool is low on chlorine, which kills the bacteria. Test your pool water and add chemicals as indicated. Should the problem persist or recur soon after, take the following steps:
- Replace or clean your pool filter.
- Remove algae.
- Keep your eye on the pool’s total alkalinity and pH levels.
- Correct the calcium hardness levels of your pool.
- Balance chlorine levels.
- Scrub and vacuum the pool.
- Test, balance, and clean your water after a rainstorm or when debris or pollen accumulates in your pool – all of which are common occurrences in Central Florida.
Calcium scaling is an unsightly white to white-gray stain, dust, or film that forms on pool sides or tile when a pool’s calcium levels and pH are imbalanced. The susceptibility of your pool to scaling is directly related to how porous your pool material is. For example, a concrete pool is the most porous, whereas vinyl liner and fiberglass pools are the least.
Regular water testing and balancing will help prevent calcium scaling. To deal with existing scale, commercial treatments and stain erasers are available at pool supply stores. Choose the treatment appropriate for your type of pool, and follow label instructions for use.
- Too Low or Too High pH
The safe pH level for swimming pool water is 7.2 to 7.6. A pH above or below this range will cause irritation to the skin, throat and eyes of the people using your pool. The pH level is determined when you test the pool, and you can balance the pH as needed with pool chemicals. Frequent testing will ensure that pool time for you, your family and friends (or dog) won’t be spoiled by skin irritation, burning eyes and redness!
- Too Much Chlorine
Chlorine is essential for eliminating harmful bacteria and preventing algae growth. But like anything else, it’s all about moderation. Too much chlorine can cause irritation to the skin and eyes – especially for those who like to swim underwater. One sign of too much chlorine in the pool is difficulty seeing underwater, by the way.
The minimum acceptable chlorine level for most swimming pools is 1.0 ppm (parts per million), up to 3.0 ppm. Test for proper chlorine levels with a fresh test strip or liquid reagent test kit. If the level is too high, wait three to six days, then test again until the level is within normal range.
- Dirty Pool Filter
You depend on your pool filter to quietly do its job. It becomes a problem when the filter can’t do its job effectively because it’s dirty. The filter will need cleaning more frequently if there is heavy pollen, or there are tree blossoms falling into the pool. If there is a lot of wind, it can blow more dust and dirt into the pool. The filter also can become coated with sunscreen and hair styling products – which can happen quickly, depending upon the number and frequency of people swimming in your pool. All these factors can affect the efficiency of your pool filter.
Checking your filter on a regular basis can help prevent this problem. On average, a pool filter cartridge’s pressure reading (in PSI on the filter gauge) should read between 8 to 15 PSI. If you are experiencing an 8-10 PSI increase in pressure – somewhere up around 25 to 30 PSI or higher – it’s time for you to clean your filter.
Clean your pool filter according to the instructions for your particular type of pool filter. There are also products available to help degrease your filter. A clean filter will be more efficient and will use less energy, and keeping the filter clean can extend its life. A pool maintenance service can also handle this task.
- Poor Water Circulation
Poor pool water circulation can be caused by a clogged filter. However, if the filter is clean, a blown fuse or other electrical issue could be the reason. A leak or hole in the airline can stop the water from circulating. Call a pool repair company immediately to repair any airline or electrical damage that’s preventing pool circulation. Do not attempt to make either type of repair yourself!
- Worn O-ring
The pool pump O-ring and filter O-ring need to be checked periodically for wear. The O-ring that wears the most and which may need replacing is the large O-ring located between the filter head and filter body. Check this every time you clean the filter. Look for any signs of wear, cracks, rips or tears.
A defective O-ring will allow water to leak from the filter, and can cause expensive damage to the pool equipment. Purchase the replacement O-ring and apply a silicone-based lubricant to the O-ring before installation to extend its life.
- Leaking Vinyl Liner
If you have a vinyl liner pool and you notice its water level has gone down by more than the ¼ to ½ inch that normal evaporation accounts for, the vinyl liner may have a leak. To rule out evaporation, you can perform the easy “bucket test” for which our website provides instructions.
A tear or hole in the liner may be readily visible. However, there may be others that aren’t so obvious – or there could be an additional source of leaking. The only way to be certain is to call a professional pool leak detection company.
Should a leak be found in the liner, you’ll have to decide if it needs to be replaced. If the liner is 10 years old and has developed a worn area, it will be difficult to patch, and the repair will probably not last. If your liner is only two or three years old and in otherwise good condition, it may be patched successfully and last for many years with no further problem. A good deal will depend on the location of the tear and how much stress is placed on the liner.
The Take-Home Message
As you’ve hopefully learned, most pool problems can be prevented by regular water testing and maintenance. While we do not perform swimming pool maintenance, we definitely can detect leaks! Certified Leak Detection uses technology and techniques we have developed over 20 years in business. In addition to quick detection and repair of swimming pool leaks, we provide industry-leading leak detection and repair for spas and hot tubs.
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!