Essential Swimming Pool Care
Swimming pools are a summer essential, providing fun for the kids and relief from the heat. But they have to be regularly maintained for hygiene and safety.
Left to its own devices, a pool becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and algae, which can lead to ear, nose and skin infections.
As well as clearing fallen leaves and debris, you need to sanitise the water using a balance of chemicals.
If it is too acidic, it can cause itchy skin and red eyes. If too alkaline, it can damage the pool surfaces and equipment.
To keep maintenance work to a minimum, ensure you have a good pump and filter and check the water weekly, even through winter.
Chlorine is the standard way to keep water clean and is applied via granular, tablet or liquid form, or using a salt chlorinator. Additives like clarifier condition the water.
Most experts agree that pool water should be checked regularly to assess its chlorine and pH levels, water hardness and total alkalinity.
DIY test kits measure these levels and explain what should be added to achieve the optimal water balance.
To determine the water quality, dip a test strip into a sample of water from your pool, wait 15 seconds then match the colours to the chart that comes with the kit.
If the coping tiles around the edge of the pool are loose, they must be repaired before they fall off or break. Use polyurethane adhesive sealant to secure the tiles to the pool shell.
Check for leaks around the skimmer box, edges of the pool shell and water outlet from the pump and filter equipment, as these are the most common areas for problems with leakage to occur.
Over time, leaks will cause damage to any nearby structures. Use a sealant to make any leaky areas fully watertight.
A filter clears the water of all kinds of contaminants from dust, pollen and leaves, to sunscreen, loose hair and sweat released by swimmers.
Filters use sand or a fine abrasive powder called diatomaceous earth to trap debris. Some incorporate a cartridge with polyester cloth or corrugated paper to catch dirt, which is removed by cleaning the filter.
A pump keeps water circulating through the filtration system to disperse chemical treatments and prevent any build-up of debris by maintaining a constant flow.
Pool pumps are usually powered by an electric motor. They can be energy guzzlers, so use yours wisely. It should be run for around six hours each day, so install a timer to switch it on and off.
A cleaner can work in tandem with the filter, sucking up debris from the floor and walls of the pool.
Manual and automatic pulse action pool vacuums are operated by suction from the pump, but robotic cleaners are powered independently.
Black spot algae
Caused by: Cracks, divots or eroding pool surface, allowing algae to grow. Poor water circulation.
To fix: Treat the water with black spot and algae remover. Ensure the water is circulating correctly.
Caused by: Heavy pool use. pH too high. Poor filtration.
To fix: Adjust pH to between 7.2 and 7.8. Add clarifier and recirculate for one hour, turn off the filter and let the water settle for 24 hours, then vacuum the pool.
Caused by: Chloramines present in water. Chlorine level too low.
To fix: Check chlorine levels. Ensure the filter is running for a sufficient amount of time. Clean the filter. Adjust pH if required.
Green water or algae
Caused by: Low chlorine level. pH too high. Faulty salt chlorinator. Pump and filter not operating.
To fix: Clean filter. Check pump or chlorinator for faults. Check chemical levels and adjust.
Caused by: Neglect. Heavy use. Heavy rain. Lack of chlorine. High pH.
To fix: Broadcast flocculant. Vacuum debris on floor. Turn on filtration system to recirculate mode, or remove cartridge and then turn on filter.
Caused by: Low pH. Chloramines present in the water. Chlorine level too low.
To fix: Check and adjust the pH levels. Add chlorine.
Slippery walls and floors
Caused by: Algae present in pool.
To fix: Check and adjust pH if required. Add chlorine. Add algaecide evenly around the pool.
Pool surface stains
Caused by: Metallic discolouration, caused by rusting fixtures or dissolved metals in the water. Organic stains, caused by algae build-up or leaves.
To fix: Treat metal stains with acid, use caution. Use an enzyme based cleaning product on organic stains.