Swimming pool care can definitely be a DIY project and for many pool owners it is. Even if you don’t have the free time or desire to perform swimming pool maintenance and upkeep, a pool contractor may still recommend between-service visit upkeep.
As a pool owner you need to determine how much free time you have and if you want to spend your free time cleaning the pool or swimming in it. You also need to decide whether it will cost you less money to hire a pool contractor than it will be to do it yourself — you may be surprised to find it may cost you less to hire an experienced professional., Keep in mind, too that when you take on your own pool maintenance and upkeep you need to find somewhere safe and secure to store the pool chemicals.
Ask For A Pool Maintenance Schedule
Before you make the decision whether to DIY pool maintenance and upkeep or hire a professional, consider this:
- It’s not fun
- It can take a long time if you don’t know what you’re doing
- It cuts into your free time for swimming and enjoying the pool
- Chemistry in the pool water is a delicate balancing act that takes a pool contractor years to master — and you are new to pool water chemistry
- You simply may lose track of what you’ve done and when (and the pool water can quickly suffer if pool maintenance isn’t performed regularly and consistently)
Why will you want to hire a swimming pool service contractor (or as him or her to give you a maintenance schedule you should adhere to?
Here are several reasons:
- Regular pool maintenance means it will take you less time to keep the pool clean. Regular and consistent care is key. The more frequently you skim the debris from the top of the pool, the less time you may spend vacuuming it up from the bottom.
- Stop water chemistry problems from arising. When you’re consistent with pool water maintenance you don’t run the risk of pool water problems (like algae, cloudy water or bacteria-filled water) occurring. When you have a lot of people using your swimming pool, they are introducing organic contaminants each time they jump into the water. Swimmers — unless you have instituted a “shower before you swim” rule — bring in make up, deodorant, natural oils, dead skin, hair spray and other organic materials. When the pool water chemistry gets unbalanced you are looking at algae growth or cloudy water and that may make the pool unusable. Algae growth will definitely require you close the pool down and shock it (perhaps more than once) to kill the algae. Many pool owners find that when faced with algae in the pool water, they call a pool service professional because the algae can infiltrate the filter, the vacuum, can live in nooks and crannies in the pool and if not completely obliterated, will strike again as soon as the water chemistry is out of balance.
- You will use fewer chemicals and save money. Yes, you read that right, when you’re on a pool maintenance schedule and are regularly cleaning and testing the water you will need to use fewer chemicals to bring out-of-balance water back into balance. If you skip a few days of testing the water and balancing the chemicals you will find it will make a big difference in how many chemicals you need to use to get the water chemistry back in balance. Also, if you don’t really know what you’re doing, you will find you add a little of this, then a little of that then a little more of this and on and on until you finally get everything back to balance and that is just wasting money (not to mention your time and perhaps even lost swim time.
How To Implement A Pool Maintenance Schedule
Choose the right pool maintenance schedule for your unique pool
The pool construction material you have chosen:
- Concrete aka gunite
- Vinyl liner
Each brings a unique cleaning challenge. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to pool maintenance because the pool construction material makes a difference. Ask a pool contractor, or read your swimming pool maintenance manual, to get an understanding of the type of pool cleaning and maintenance schedule your unique pool requires.
Factor in that the pool filter style you use as well as the pump style each brings unique challenges to the cleaning and maintenance schedule.
You could certainly do a Google search for pool maintenance for your pool construction material type, but we urge you to contact a local swimming pool service professional to assure your pool is getting the highest quality care it requires. You can hire a pool service contractor to come over, clean the pool and show you how to do it yourself after he leaves.
Get the family involved
There is no reason the family can’t lend a hand in the pool maintenance tasks. In fact, they should be involved and knowledgeable enough to take over in case the primary swimming pool maintenance person in the house isn’t around to take care of it.
Another reason to get the family involved is so you can talk with them and get an idea of their schedules and swim habits. If the pool sees a lot of activity on the weekend, but not so much during the week, you can adjust your cleaning and maintenance schedule. You will also want to make certain you haven’t planned to shock the pool on the weekend if that is the only time it’s used.
Everyone in the family benefits and enjoys the swimming pool and everyone should lend a hand, right? Even the youngest in the family may be old enough to skim floating debris from the pool. Show your teenagers how to use the vacuum or even have them help learn what proper water chemistry looks like. Getting everyone involved can make the pool time a family event and everyone will gain an appreciation for what it takes to maintain a swimming pool.
Write down your pool maintenance schedule
Once you know what your pool maintenance schedule should be, write it down. It’s easy to forget to do a pool maintenance task — we get it, life is busy! — but missing too many can lead to water chaos! The reason so many pool owners hire a swimming pool service professional is just for that reason — they don’t want to forget to clean the pool and have to deal with brackish water.
Set up a calendar — paper may be best — and put it in a location where everyone sees it. Write down the specific tasks that need to be completed on the specific day. Institute a rule that once the task is done, cross it off with a red marker. Put the calendar in an area that is high traffic so it doesn’t get missed when you’re going about your daily lives.
For the DIY crowd, we’ve put together a simple list of tasks and their timing. Use this as a starting point, but call on the services of a swimming pool service contractor to assure you’re caring properly for your unique pool.
- Check the water levels. If you’ve had a party and there was a lot of water splash out, the pool may need to be filled. A dry spell can lead to water evaporation and you may need to refill the pool (using a swimming pool cover will help cut back on the rate of evaporation) If there has been a lot of rainfall, and you didn’t use a pool cover, there could be too much water in the pool and that can lead to the pool skimmer not working properly.
- Skim off any floating debris before it falls to the bottom of the pool. This is a task that should be done every time you see something floating on the surface. Using a swimming pool cover will mean you don’t have to worry about this task.
- Test the water chemistry. The pool water pH and chlorine levels should be kept within specific levels; use a pool water test kit to determine what your pool water levels are or take a sample of your pool water to a pool service contractor in your neighborhood who will test it for you. As a quick tip. pH levels should be between 7.2 and 7.5 ppm (parts per million) and chlorine levels should be between 1 and 2 ppm. There are many other chemicals that need to be tested and balanced, but those are two of the main ones.
- Clean skimmer and pump baskets. Keeping these clean of debris will help them perform more efficiently and effectively.
- Check the pool pump pressure gauge. You need to know what the proper levels are for your particular pump (write it right on the pump so you can easily see if it’s in range). If the pressure is too low, the water levels in the pool could be too low or there could be a clog in the filter. If the pressure is too high the filter is dirty and needs to be cleaned. Too high or too low — either range can lead to pool pump damage.
- Run the pool pump daily. Get on a schedule of running the pool pump during the overnight hours and to adding any necessary chemicals once the sun goes down. Adding chemicals at night or dusk helps them not evaporate and also allows you to use the pool all day long. Running the pump overnight will save money as there is a lower draw on the power grid then and electricity is usually less expensive at night. Have a timer installed on the pool pump and filter so they turn on and then off on a schedule — this will help assure you don’t forget to turn it on or off.
- Take a walk around the pool fence and safety gate. Make certain there are no breaks in the fence and that the fence alarms are in working order and that the gate’s self-closing mechanism works properly.
Weekly pool maintenance tasks
- Weather conditions and frequent pool use may require a weekly shocking aka super-chlorination of the pool. You may need to set aside a day a week for this task because the pool will be off limits then.
- Brush the entire pool — walls, floor, behind any steps or stairs. Once that’s done you will need to vacuum the pool and get rid of anything you’ve brushed off the pool. Using a robotic cleaner will help with the task, but you will still need to brush the pool walls. The reason for this is to loosen any bacteria or algae spores and get them out of the pool water.
- Use an algaecide. In the summer, algae loves to jump into your pool and just wait for its opportunity to bloom. Untreated water, heat and viola — a green or brown or even black pool! Yuck!
- Backwash the pool filter. If your pool has a sand filter or a DE filter, they need to be backwashed regularly. Before you have your pool constructed you may want to ask about all of your filter options mainly because sand and DE require a LOT of water during the backwash process.
Monthly pool maintenance task
- Clean the pool filters. Depending on the type of filter you have for your pool, it should be deep cleaned at least monthly.
- Check all of the timers you have set up for your pool. Make certain any manual timers are working properly and reset them if necessary. You may need to be physically present to check that the timers are turning on and off as scheduled.
Annual pool maintenance tasks
- Inspect the pool’s entire plumbing system. Check for leaks, wear and tear on fittings and o-rings. Lubricate o-rings on the chlorinator, valves and pool pump and filter.
- Inspect any and all pool accessories. Diving boards, slides, fountains, etc. all require regular inspections. Don’t leave diving boards and slide inspections until you open or close the pool, you may want to inspect them monthly.
- Opening and closing the swimming pool for the season bring unique challenges and tasks that you will want to plan for, and get on your schedule. You may want to bring in a swimming pool service professional to do these tasks for you to assure the pool is properly opened and properly closed for the season
Consistency is key!
Consistent regular maintenance is key to pool water health and to pool equipment working properly. Write down the tasks. Check the calendar and check them off when you’re finished OR hire a pool service contractor and leave the work to him!