Managing your own pool maintenance takes practice, knowledge and a bit of experimentation. We offer some tips on how to keep your pool in tip top condition and potentially save some money.
For the purposes of this article we are using a pool that is 12m by 3.5m with a standard depth of 1.25m.
It is a bespoke design consisting of a long rectangle designed for swimming as exercise and, of course, lounging in to reduce the effects of the summer heat.
Whilst we could afford to build a new pool we knew we couldn’t afford to pay someone to come round and maintain it – especially given our location (miles from any other pools).
So we decided with some trepidation to learn what we thought was the black art of pool maintenance.
The company that built the pool started us on our learning curve by giving us an A4 sheet of instructions in Turkish for maintenance and a very brief training session.
Five years later we have a crystal clear pool and very low bills for chemicals, in fact the 2009 season will barely cost £100.
So how do we do it? We explain below.
Less Use Means Less Chemicals
The sheet we were given by the pool builder quoted quite high amounts of chemicals to be added every day and, as we have found, was probably designed for hotel pools with high use rather than the normal domestic pool.
We consulted a pool maintenance book and found a very useful formula for working out our maintenance regime.
The book explains that every pool has what is known as a ‘Bather Load Limit’, the maximum number of people that can use the pool to maintain clean water.
It is calculated as follows:
– One bather per 15 square feet (1.4sq.m.) of surface area in portions of the pool that are 5 feet deep (1.5m) or less.
– One bather per 20 square feet (1.9sq.m.) of surface area in portions of the pool that are more than 5 feet (1.5m) deep.
Thus our pool has a bather load of 15. But we have never had any more than 6 people in it at one time and that confirmed that we could drastically reduce the amount of chemicals used.
The Other Stuff
But bathers and chemicals are only one part of the equation to keep your pool water balanced.
Regular removal of floating things such as leaves and insects, emptying of the skimmer, hoovering the pool floor for sunken stuff and running the pool pump regularly are all important too.
In addition there’s the temperature of the water to think about, the strength of the sun, the chemical balance of the fresh water added and more.
It may sound complicated but as you’ll see in the next section it isn’t really.
Our Maintenance Regime
Start of the year
We leave our pool to the elements in the winter so at the start of the year we have a major clean up job to clean the pool of dead leaves, debris and even frogs.
As our pool water is supplied from an artesian well and is high in calcium we also have the job of cleaning lime scale from the dark blue pool tiles along the water line. We don’t use an expensive pool shop supplied acid for this but a supermarket bought lime scale remover. This is very cheap and does a great job; just remember to wear gloves to prevent burning of the skin and goggles to protect the eyes from splashes.
The pool is then inspected for any re-grouting work that needs to be carried out.
The pool pump, that has been stored over winter, is refitted and tested along with the filter.
The pool is then refilled.
We then begin our maintenance routine.
Skim the pool for floating debris – leaves, insects and other stuff
Clean out the skimmer baskets. This stops the debris rotting or being pulled into the pool filters and blocking them.
Hoover the bottom of the pool. This attachment fits onto the skimmer pump and sucks up the heavy debris on the pool floor.
Top up the pool with fresh water from our artesian well counter the evaporation.
Add 1 cup of chlorine. Leave for 1 hour before swimming.
Every 2 weeks or if the edges of the pool start to go green
Add 1 cup of acid dissolved in water to balance the water alkalinity. This also stops the pool going green. We pour this near to any tiles that are showing signs of algae growth.
When the pool is cloudy or full of dust after a strong wind we add polyfloculant.
This stuff attracts the small dust particles suspended in the water and makes them fall to the pool floor. This is the hoovered up.
However, this is a long job!
The pool pump is an essential part of keeping our water sparkling.
We have found that the duration that the pump is operated is a key element to keep that water clean as it not only filters out dirt but also cools the water to prevent more chemicals being added.
We run our pump as follows:
[list class=special-7][li]May – 3 hours during the hottest part of the day[/li][li]June – 4.5 hours in one stretch between 11am and 3pm[/li][li]July / August – 5 or 6 hours, again in the hottest part of the day[/li][li]Sept – 3 hours per day.[/li][li]Oct – Depending on the weather we then start to decommission the pool for the winter. We half empty the pool and then disconnect the pump and store it for the winter. We keep the pool half full to maintain some weight on the pool structure as well as to allow some room for the inevitable filling up from heavy winter rains.[/li][/list]
If things start to go wrong it’s a good idea to keep a few testing papers to hand. These things show the ph level of the water and can help if things start to get too far out of balance. However, we have found that these papers always told to add more chemicals even if the water was fine. Again, this is one of the things you learn along the way that this is not an exact science – approximation works just fine.
And that’s it. As we have found maintaining your pool is no ‘black art’ and doing it yourself saves a stack of cash too.
Please note this article is based on our experience of maintaining our own pool. You should seek advice if you are unsure of how to maintain your own pool.
Other articles on pool maintenance can be found at these links:
wikihow.com includes the precautions around the use of pool checmicals