How To: Easy Pool Maintenance Steps You NEED to Take
One of the first things people tell you about owning any above ground pool is how expensive they are to maintain. While this is not entirely untrue, it's important to understand that the maintenance costs associated with your swimming pool have a lot to do with you. For instance, if you ignore basic pool maintenance and simply "hope for the best," you drastically increase your chances of spending big money on big repairs. However, if you make little time and money expenditures here and there, you can often keep those big-ticket breakdowns at bay. In the end, nobody wants to spend money on repairs or replacements that could have been prevented. That's why we've put together this list of essential maintenance you can do to keep your pool and all of its components in prime condition. Follow our advice, and your pool will thank you by saving you a pile of money year after year.
Keep Your Pool (and Pump Baskets) Clean
If you want to avoid some of the most expensive pool problems out there, you need to make it your mission to keep anything and everything out of your pool. This starts by skimming your pool's surface every couple of days, especially if your pool is located in an area with lots of trees or foliage. Of course, floating debris will sink at one point or another. So, you'll either need to get a bit more creative with your skimming or use a vacuum instead. The same goes for the skimmer and pump baskets, which often catch the majority of this debris. This is probably the quickest and easiest part of maintaining your pool and often the most overlooked. The biggest issue here is the restriction of water flow. This causes poor water circulation which prevents your water from being filtered and chemicals from being distributed. If that's not bad enough, it can also result in a burned up pool pumps from running them dry. And if the debris is left to marinate in your pool, things like bugs, leaves, sticks, and acorns will eventually make it into your piping. Here, they can either clog up the components or alter chlorine production, putting your pool environment at risk. Clogged pipes can get quite expensive to fix, especially on inground pools where the plumbing is all underground.
Clean Your Filter Regularly
From sand and cartridge to DE, there are tons of different types of filters out there. However, no matter what kind of filter you own, you need to take steps to clean it regularly. You see, in doing its job, your pool filter will collect debris, buildup, and other elements that will eventually start to hinder its performance. And if left unattended for an extended period, a bum filter can put a lot of strain on your entire pool system. Most filters will have a recommendation from the manufacturer on how often they need to be cleaned. However, you should also monitor your pressure gauge for uncommon readings that might signal its time to give the filter a good scrubbing. Another tip? Clean your filter every time you have a heavy storm. Weather like this can force a lot of debris through your pipes very quickly, where they can end up doing a ton of damage.
Always Keep an Eye on the Pressure Gauge
I tell all of my customers that they should be monitoring their pressure gauge at least once a week. This is the device that indicates the force of the water flowing through your system. Now, each pool system will have its own ideal PSI (pounds per square inch) setting, but you also need to keep an eye out for any elevated readings. This indicates that your filter (see above) might be dirty or clogged. In other cases, repeated bad readings can indicate a broker pressure gauge. So, before you assume that your entire pool system is about to blow, consider replacing the pressure gauge itself first. They are cheap insurance and available at any local pool store.
Don’t Ignore O-Rings and Gaskets
Your pool system's internal components are protected from water and pressure damage by a series of O-rings, gaskets, and other small components. In many cases, when an expensive part fails, it is because one of these inexpensive items was ignored for too long. Eventually, what would have cost a few dollars to fix skyrockets into the hundreds (or more). For instance, the pool filter head O-ring is vital to the function of your filter. If it starts to deteriorate, your filter tank might begin to leak or lose pressure. To prevent this, I make it a habit to check the O-ring each time I clean or change my filter cartridges. If I see that it's showing signs of wear, I know to make a trip to the store to replace it. When reinstalling O-rings, you don't just want to replace them outright. Instead, you want to make sure they are properly lubricated. This will not only make replacing them easier, but will also help maximize their lifespan. In the end, these items cost just a few bucks. Keeping them operable and replacing them frequently can save you hundreds down the line.
Regularly Monitor Your Stabilizer Levels
Your stabilizer (typically cyanuric acid) acts like "sunscreen" for your pool. By this, I mean it protects your chlorine levels from being depleted by evaporation. So, when your stabilizer levels drop unexpectedly, you might not notice that your chlorine levels are doing the same. This will quickly alter your pool's environment, often allowing algae and bacteria to start growing in just a few days. So, make it a regular habit to keep an eye on all of your chemical levels, and be sure to store extra chemicals at your home so that you can balance your pool immediately after noticing an off reading.
In the end simple and consistant maintenance will pay off by keeping at bay the things that can drive up the cost of pool ownership. Lube those O-rings on your pump and cartridge filter tank frequently, they'll keep their shape and resist stretching. Also check or empty your skimmer basket everyday when you're go out by the pool. Clean the filter regularly and try to give the pool 20 minutes every weekend for a once over and chemical check. These things will keep you enjoying your pool for many years to come.