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Nothing sounds better during a hot St. Louis summer than lounging poolside with a cold drink and a good book. The idea of having your very own pool seems quite tempting – endless days of summer fun with friends and family, getting fit with enjoyable exercise, as well as an enhanced view in your own backyard may all be reasons to take the plunge. As those daydreams become a reality, it’s important to know that owning a pool requires consistent maintenance. Here are a few tips to ensure that your backyard oasis doesn’t turn into a swamp.
Skim and Scrub
While it may seem like common sense to skim your pool every so often to remove any foreign debris, for a truly clean and pristine pool, skimming should be a part of your daily routine. If your budget allows, it’s a good idea to invest in a pool vacuum to ensure that any and all objects are cleared from the bottom of the pool as well. If you don’t have time to make it part of your daily routine, it should at least be done a few times a week to prevent any algae from forming and building. If you do encounter some stubborn spots of algae growth, an easy household tip is to repurpose an old sock by filling it with chlorine and positioning it on top of the stubborn area for a few hours. The chlorine will eat away the algae and your pool will again look clean and pristine.
Tend to the Filters
Your pool's filter is responsible for removing any impurities or small debris from the water. Much like the air filters in your home, they do get dirty and need to be cleaned and maintained. The filters are relatively simple to clean – just turn off the filtering system, remove the filter cap, lift out the filter basket, and remove the debris. This should be done a few times per week as well. The pipes for your filter also need to be flushed by using the backwash setting on the filter system, which can be done on a monthly basis. Simply set your filter to the backwash setting, remove and clean the basket, turn on the pump, and allow it to run until the waste pipe water is clear. Lastly, be aware that your pool’s filter should run for at least six hours per day to be most effective.
Maintaining the proper chemical levels in your pool is probably the most important facet of pool maintenance. You’ll know if your chemical levels are balanced because the water will be crystal clear, have little to no scent, and won’t leave residue on your skin. On the flip side, an improper balance will leave you with murky, somewhat stagnant water that can irritate your skin and eyes and end up being a breeding ground for organisms and bacteria. It’s a good idea to test your levels weekly to ensure they’re balanced. Test kits can be purchased at your local pool supply store and will test for six chemicals levels: Cyanuric Acid, Free Chlorine, Acidity/Alkalinity, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness.
You may notice that your pool looks a bit murky after a heavy rain or after use by a large group of people. That murkiness indicates that you have bacteria forming and that the pool is in need of a quick cleaning action known as shocking. Shocking your pool drastically raises the chlorine levels over a short period of time. The high doses of chlorine can cause damage to your pool siding, so this shouldn’t be done on a regular basis. Doing this only twice per season is your best bet to ensure that the interior mold of the pool remains intact.
The amount of water in your pool will fluctuate due to heavy rains or an afternoon of rambunctious play, so it’s important to keep an eye on it and make adjustments if necessary. The ideal water level is at the halfway point of your filter opening. If your water is too low, simply fill it with your garden hose, and if the water is too high, use a pump to drain. Just be sure to check your chemical levels once the water level is restored.
Having a pool can provide tons of fun for the family as long as it’s maintained properly. These helpful tips should have you feeling confident in no time.