9 Common Swimming Pool Maintenance Mistakes

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Spring Pool Maintenance Tips

Use our handy pool maintenance checklist to get your swimming pool ready for summer.

Over the years I believe I have made every pool maintenance mistake you can. Maintaining a pool the right way is a science, and sometimes you just forget the process. That’s why I work from a list now, to avoid these common mistakes.

  1. Have you tested the water? The water needs to be tested regularly, preferably two or three times a week, to make sure the pH is in balance, and that the chlorine in the pool is in the right proportion. The pH should be just above neutral, between 7.2 and 7.6 parts per million (ppm). The chlorine level should be at 1 to 3 ppm. These values are easy to check with a testing kit.

  2. Did you adjust the chemicals? So I tested and found that the chemicals needed an adjustment. Did I actually do it? The easiest mistake in the world is to procrastinate and just flat not get to adjusting your pool's chemicals. The result can be a big headache to clean up later, like algae, cloudy water, or scale-forming.

  3. Have you shocked the pool recently? Even if you regularly adjust your pool chemicals, it’s helpful occasionally to give the pool a chlorine shock treatment. Administering a chlorine shock to your pool is not simply a matter of dumping chlorine in the pool. Purchase a water chemistry testing kit, which will instruct you to follow some basic calculations to determine how much chlorine to add. What we’re trying to do with a chlorine shock is get rid of organic compounds that have built up in the pool – a build-up of organic compounds will prevent chlorine from sanitizing the water.

  4. Has anyone checked the pool pump? First I make sure it’s working. If the pump pressure has reached 8–10 psi above normal (some say 15–20 psi above normal, but I play it safe), I backwash the system. Turn the valves to reverse the flow and clean out the system. It usually takes about 3 minutes once we’ve got it set up, and it’s well worth it to have a clean pump, which means it doesn’t have to work as hard.

  5. Have you cleaned or replaced your pool filter recently? I shoot for a filter cleaning every 4 to 6 months. I clean debris out of the filter, then soak it in a 10% solution of muriatic acid – a trick our Home Depot pool expert told us about. I rinse the filter, let it dry, put it back, and that job is done for a while.

  6. Have you cleaned the pool water? Even if the pool filter is working properly, you must regularly clean your pool water. Skimming bugs, debris, leaves, etc., from your pool will keep them from clogging the filter. This is the most basic step in pool maintenance and should be done daily. Regular vaccuuming or routine running of automatic pool cleaners or robots will keep your pool clean. However, be sure to use the "waste" setting on your vaccuum when opening the pool for the season, and do not use an automatic cleaner to clean the pool when it's very dirty.

  7. Did you check the pool drains? I have drain covers that are compliant with industry standards, which basically means that they have a shutoff device. It’s called a Safety Vacuum Release System, and it automatically shuts off the pump if a blockage is detected. Swim to the bottom of the pool and push a towel against the drain to see if it shuts off like it should.

  8. Did you empty your skimmer basket? Dumping the leaves out of the skimmer basket will prevent it from cracking, from causing strain on the pump, and from clogging the line. As well, make sure that your skimmer basket is weighted down and not floating.

  9. Have you brushed the pool recently? It is recommended that you clean the walls and bottom of your pool once a week, with a nylon brush on the end of a long pole, to discourage the growth of algae and bacteria. Vacuuming keeps a clean pool clean but it is no substitute for brushing.

We all make mistakes when it comes to pool maintenance, but experience is a great teacher (ask me about the great algae attack and all the work needed to clean that up). Minimizing pool maintenance mistakes means more time to kick back and enjoy the fun of your family pool.

Becky is a freelance writer who has three kids – two boys and a girl – with her wonderful husband and two lovely golden retrievers. After studying things like pool pump motors and how to design a pool for maximum efficiency, she spends the remainder of her time at her family’s pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. You can find her on twitter @Becky_Flanigan.

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