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How to maintain a pool

Adam_W
Valued Contributor

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Keeping a pool clean and safe doesn’t require a lot of work with regular maintenance. This guide shows you how to keep your pool sparkling with easy tips for testing and cleaning so that you can dive in whenever you like.

 

Testing and regular cleaning

 

Even if you have your pool regularly serviced by a professional, performing some quick and easy tasks yourself will help maintain a clean and safe pool.

 

  • Regularly remove leaves and floating materialRegularly remove leaves and floating materialKeep it clean. If you don’t have an automatic pool cleaner, use a leaf scoop net or vacuum head to collect leaves and debris regularly. Many leaves can lead to unsightly staining if left sitting on the pool floor. If material starts to break down, this will increase the nutrient load in your pool, which can lead to algae.

 

  • Scrub and vac. Think of this as the brush and floss of pool care. Regularly use a brush to give the pool walls and sides of steps a scrub as fine material can collect there. Once scrubbed, let the material settle to the pool floor before running over with a vacuum connected through the skimmer box.

 

  • Empty the basket. Your skimmer box basket is fantastic at collecting both floating and suspended material, but it can quickly become filled and clogged. This will impact pump pressure and reduce water movement. It will also place your pump under extra load and can decrease its operating life. Regularly check and empty your skimmer basket and don’t forget to turn the pump off before you do so.

 

  • Don't forget to keep waterline tiles cleanDon't forget to keep waterline tiles cleanQuick tests. Even if you have your pool professionally serviced, it’s worth self-checking the water chemistry, especially if the pool has been heavily used for a period. Water sampling test kits can be tricky to interpret. The easier option is to use dip-and-check test strips, which will give you an idea of any adjustments that need to be made.

 

  • Don’t forget the waterline tiles. Any floating material in the pool, from sunscreen residue to airborne dust, can stick to your waterline tiles like that ring around the bathtub. This is easy fixed with a regular wipe down or brush. There are even cleaning blocks designed for this purpose.

 

Maintaining a chemically-balanced pool

 

Pool water needs to be balanced and treated to keep it both sparkling clean and safe. Chemicals like chlorine that keep your water sanitised are most effective within a specific pH range.

 

Chemicals need to be added in the right way to be most effective and so that you don’t damage your pool and pumping equipment. Be sure to wear chemical-resistant gloves and eye protection when working with chemicals.

 

Water alkalinity and pH levels

 

Water alkalinity is directly connected to pH and vice versa. Your water should measure between 80 to 120 parts per million (ppm) on an alkalinity test. This range helps keep pH levels stable. Alkalinity increasers, often called pH buffers, are used to adjust alkalinity upwards. When adding pH buffers, the rule of thumb is that to increase the levels by 10ppm in a 50,000L pool you would add 1kg of buffer.

 

The ideal pH range is 7.2 to 7.8. Anything from extended rainy periods to a heavy weekend of use can change the pH reading. When you increase water alkalinity, this will also raise the pH readings. Alkalinity and pH increasers should be mixed in a bucket of pool water and then poured evenly around the pool. If you need to add both, don’t add at the same time or on the same day. First add the alkalinity increaser, check the pH level the next day and then add the pH increaser.

 

Hydrochloric acid or pH decreaser is used when alkalinity or pH levels need to be lowered. It should be mixed in a bucket of pool water and evenly distributed. Only ever add acid to water, not water to acid. Use caution when handling acid, avoiding splashes and fumes.

 

Chlorine

 

Chlorine neutralises bacteria and algae, so it’s critical for water hygiene and swimmer safety that these levels be maintained using chlorine additives. Chlorine levels will vary depending on the type of pool you have but you generally need to aim for levels in the range of 1ppm to 3ppm.

 

Empty your skimmer basket regularlyEmpty your skimmer basket regularly

Many modern pools are fitted with salt-chlorine generators that convert salt in the water into chlorine as it runs through the pump system. These systems have an integrated salt level monitor that will tell you when you need to add salt. Add salt straight from the bag and spread evenly around the pool. It’s a good idea to brush the area afterwards to help distribute and to avoid staining.

 

If a rapid chlorine boost is needed, such as after a weekend pool party, then you can add a liquid chlorine at the recommended rates. Mix liquid chlorine in a bucket of pool water and distribute. Check the packaging for any specific instructions.

 

Stabiliser

 

Stabiliser is an important chemical additive and can be described as sunscreen for your pool. Chlorine is essential for safe, clean and healthy water, but it breaks down quickly when exposed to UV rays. That’s where stabilisers come in. They bind with chlorine to protect it from sunlight. You can run Cyanuric Acid (CYA) tests for stabiliser and you’ll be looking to maintain levels from 30 to 50ppm.

 

Stabiliser needs to be mixed in a bucket of pool water and evenly spread. Don’t backwash your filter for two or three days afterwards as the stabiliser can take some time to fully dissolve and distribute.

 

Calcium

 

Calcium hardness is the measure of calcium levels in water. Calcium protects pool equipment, concrete and grout from corrosion by other pool chemicals and it adds sparkle and shine to your water. The levels required will vary depending on your pool type with the range of 175 to 300ppm considered ideal.

 

Calcium increaser can be mixed in a bucket of water and spread evenly or you can place the dose in your pool net and drag this through the water until dissolved. It’s best to add calcium increaser the day after other treatments.

 

Common problems and treatments

 

There are times when you’ll need to add products to your pool for general care or to solve specific problems. Here are two common issues:

 

Algae can quickly take hold in your poolAlgae can quickly take hold in your poolAlgae outbreaks

 

Green algae is free-floating and tints water green. Mustard algae is yellow in colour and will be found on walls that don’t receive a lot of sun. Black algae appears as black spots and patches on pool walls and floor. These different types will generally get a foothold when chlorine levels have been low and pH or alkalinity is too high. Once you’ve identified the algae, follow the advice in this guide: How to fix a green pool or contact a pool specialist for a hand in killing off the algae.

 

Cloudy water

 

Water can become cloudy for a host of reasons, one of which is the early stages of suspended algae outbreaks. This fine material can’t be picked up by the filtration system often due to particle size. The simple solution is to use a flocculent. These products cause the small particles to clump together, increasing their size and weight so they will sink and can be vacuumed up.

 

 

For more help with your pool, check out these guides or feel free to ask the Bunnings Workshop community.

 

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