Maintenance is an essential task for every pool owner, and something that needs to be done throughout the year, whether or not the pool is being used.
Pools can easily collect debris such as leaf matter and thus will need to be cleaned regularly. This can be done in a number of ways:
The filter is a vital part of keeping the pool well maintained, and should be run for at least eight hours out of every day. It is ideal to keep the filter running continuously, but for energy efficiency, run it during the day and place a filter on the timer, to save you from having to remember to turn it on and off again. Ensure that the filters are cleaned regularly – this will help them to run as efficiently as possible.
The most common types of filters are:
It is important that the water balance is correct in your pool. You will need to test for the pH level, alkalinity and calcium. You can get the appropriate testing materials from your local pool shop.
The pH measures the alkalinity or acidity of your pool and your swimming pool needs to maintain a level of slight alkalinity at around a pH of 7.2 to 7.6. This is the level where chlorine is at its most effective, and it is also very similar to the pH of our skin, making it more comfortable to use the pool. If the pH is incorrect, it can result in damage to the pool and pool equipment. In order to correct the pool’s pH level, you will need to add an acid such as muriatic acid, or an alkali such as soda ash or baking soda, depending on if it is too acid or too alkaline. Total alkalinity is also important, as the correct total alkalinity will stop sudden changes in the pH levels. Total alkalinity should be around 80 to 120 parts per million and can be adjusted by adding baking soda as required.
You will also need to ensure that the calcium level in the water is correct. This is because water that is too low in calcium will become corrosive, while water that is too high in calcium will cause scale to form. A standard testing kit generally cannot test for calcium hardness so you will need to take a sample of your pool water to your local pool shop. This should be tested yearly.
Pools that are not correctly sanitised can become a breeding ground for bacteria and the most common way to eliminate bacteria is to use chlorine. Chlorine comes as a liquid, in tablet form, in granular form, or through a salt chlorinator. Each type of chlorine works in the same way, so what you choose is up to your budget and the amount of work you are prepared to do. You will need to maintain a level of “free” chlorine in your pool in the ratio of one to three parts per million. Be advised, however, that chlorine levels are not constant. Regularly super chlorinating your pool is a requirement and should be done regularly. This is where you add three to four times the daily amount of chlorine. Your pool shop can advise you on when and how often this should be done. Only super chlorinate at night, and stay out of the pool overnight.
Pool covers are a useful addition to any pool. They stop evaporation and convection heat loss, helping to keep your pool at an even temperature. You will also save water, as you will not have to top your pool up as often. As well, you will save on chemicals, as you don’t have to rebalance your pool every time you top it up. Pool covers also help to keep your pool a lot cleaner, reducing the amount of debris by up to ninety percent. They also save on the cost of heating the pool and help to extend your swimming season, even if you don’t have a heating system. This is because pool covers can increase the temperature of the water by six to eight degrees if the pool has a sunny aspect.
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