Pool Maintenance: Winter Tasks For Pool Owners
The majority of pool owners in warmer climates continue their pool service throughout the winter. Some switch to every other week instead of every week because of less frequent pool use. The decision about whether your schedule should change can depend on the potential for falling leaves and other debris to accumulate in your pool during the colder parts of the year.
If this is your first winter with a pool, or if you arent sure whether you have been performing proper winter pool maintenance, consider these guidelines:
If you follow these few maintenance tips, your pool will be ready when temperatures climb and you want to enjoy a swim more frequently.
Clean Up Debris And Check For Wear And Tear
Before you open your pool, take some time to survey the area around your pool. Trim overgrown trees and hedges. Sweep away nearby leaves. Check your for damage, wear, and tear and address any issues before you open your pool for the season. Be sure to clean and repair any deck furniture so that it is safe for use. You should also check pool equipment like safety rails, slides, rescue equipment, ladders, and diving boards.
Think Of The Filter As Your Pools Kidneys
Just as your kidneys are constantly working to remove impurities from your body, your pools filter is responsible for removing impurities from the water think dirt, leaves, and even small toys.Most of the time, the pool can be cleaned by turning off the filter, removing the filter cap located on the pool deck, lifting out the filter basket, and removing any debris before replacing everything. Its best to clean out your filter basket at least once a week.Once a month youll also want to clean out the pipes utilized by your filter system, which you can do by backwashing. To do so, simply set your filter to backwash, remove the leaf basket and clean it out. Then turn on your pump and let it run until the waste pipe ejects clear water.A final note on turning the filter on and off: Doing so too often can cause the filters mechanics to crack. Set your filter on a timer and allow it to run for at least six hours a day.
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Cyanuric Adjusting Chemicals For Pool Start Up
This is the next step in getting the chemicals in your pool set up. This one addresses something that isnt often tested in pool water, the cyanuric acid.
Most pools should have very little of this in them at start up. This builds up over time because of the chlorine added. The stabilizers are in the chemicals that you add to your pool water. These accumulate in your pool and affect the water.
This does take a while to build up, but testing for and correcting any of it found is important for a fully successful start up.
Alkalinity Adjusting Chemicals For Pool Start Up
If your pools initial test shows an incorrect amount of alkalinity, then you need to add some chemicals to fix it. It doesnt matter if it was too high or too low, chemicals are going to be needed.
This should be the first chemical that you add to your pool during start-up. This one can really affect the pH level of your pool. Sorting this out first prevents you from ruining your hard work on your pools pH level by doing it afterward.
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Power Wash To Make The Pool Deck Shine
The area that surrounds your pool is just as important as the physical structure itself. You can help keep your pool deck shining by power washing.Power washing, also known as pressure washing, will help get rid of any rust or weather stains that occur over time. You can rent a power washer at any home improvement store.Start the process by sweeping the deck free of any errant dirt or leaves first, so you dont end up spreading them all over during the cleaning process. Then, put the power washer together according to the directions. Set the machine on a weak to medium power spray and remove the surface debris in layers, repeating the process until the surface is clean.As you spray, be sure to overlap the areas youve cleaned in order to help prevent streaks. Youll want the nozzle of the power washer several feet off the surface of the pool deck and maintain this height to prevent gouging.
Addition By Broadcast Method
Other pool chemicals must be broadcast directly from their packaging into the pool or spa. Before starting, make sure to use the appropriate protective equipment. This process should never be carried out when wind is present, as the chemicals can be released into the air and around the pool, potentially causing someone harm. Every facility should be properly closed off before using the broadcast method.
After the pool is closed, open the container as instructed and slowly pour the chemical over the water. Keep the packaging away from your face and body. Kneel down and pour some of the chemical into the pool water close to a return fitting to spread them around. Repeat this process as many times as is required for your particular facility.
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What Chemicals Should Be Kept On
As a minimum, the average pool will want to keep the following chemicals on hand even if you use a salt chlorinator, you will need these other pool chemicals from time to time:
- Chlorine tablets and pool shock
- Pool pH Up and/or pH Down
- Test strips or test kit
Every pool will also need other chemicals to raise calcium, cyanuric or alkalinity levels, usually once per year and clarifiers, enzymes, algaecides can be an important part of the overall routine, or are especially handy when youre in a pinch!
Theres lots to learn, with 12 categories of pool chemicals you wont need them all but its important to understand what they do, so that when you do need them, you know which chemical to use!
Tablets Granules Or Liquid
Its fairly easy to treat a pool when using chlorine, but it can be slightly confusing when choosing from the various types. Chlorine can be found in tablet, granule and liquid forms.
The most popular option and easiest to administer is tablets. These are often placed in a dispenser that will float in the pool, meaning chlorine will slowly be added to the water over an extended period of time.
Granules can be added to the water directly, but its highly recommended that they should initially be mixed with water to form a solution before distributing into the pool water.
Liquid chlorine provides a simple solution for maintaining a clean swimming pool. However, it is primarily used for industrial swimming pools, where a substantial amount is required.
For the vast majority of swimming pools, tablets are recommended.
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Pools Need Consistent Chemical Levels
Chemical levels are arguably one of the most important facets of pool maintenance. Improperly balanced water looks murky, irritates skin and eyes, and can cause your pool to become a breeding ground for bacteria.Ideally, you should test the water at least once a week. According to the Center for Disease Control , there are six chemical levels that need to be considered:
- Cyanuric Acid Protects chlorine from sunlight and determines the required Free Chlorine level. An ideal reading for outdoor pools is 30- 50.
- Free Chlorine A sanitizer which keeps your pool water safe and free of germs.
- Acidity/Alkalinity Also known as the PH level, acidity needs to be kept between 7.5 and 7.8 to prevent irritation and protect the pool equipment from eroding.
- Total Alkalinity Helps keep the PH in balance. Levels should be within range of 60-120.
- Calcium Hardness Appropriate levels help prevent plaster damage. Aim for 220-350, but lower for pools with vinyl siding.
What Is Breakpoint Oxidation
To reach breakpoint oxidation, the chlorine reading must be 10 ppm over your combined chlorine reading.
Your chlorine has two readings: free chlorine and combined chlorine . Free chlorine refers to the chlorine that is free and available to kill.
NOTE: Pool shock products are made with unstabilized chlorine or no chlorine at all. They will go in, do their job, and get eaten up by the suns UV rays very fast. Thats why its important to shock your pool at night or dusk, and let it work for 8 hours throughout the night.
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How To Add Chemicals To A Pool Safely
Adding chemicals to a pool can cause skin irritation or irritation of the mucous linings in your throat and nose. Therefore, the first consideration you have to make when chlorinating a pool is safety. For example, always make sure to wear the relevant PPE, such as gloves, face masks and goggles.
Proceeding with caution, the next step is to measure the level of chemicals in the water. You can do this using either a strip test or kit test, as we mentioned above. After calculating the volume of water in the pool, add the appropriate amount of granulated chlorine, liquid chlorine or bromine tablets to the swimming pool. Ideally, chemicals like these should be added around the perimeter of the water so that it can distribute evenly throughout the whole pool.
Use A Tennis Ball To Absorb Oils
Most of the time when people think about tennis balls in a pool, they think about playing catch. However, those toys can do double duty.When swimmers exit the pool, certain oils can get left behind in the water suntan lotion, hair product, the natural oils produced by our skin. While its unpleasant to think about, luckily theres an easy solution.Simply throw a tennis ball into the water. The fibers used to make the tennis ball will help absorb the oils and keep them from leaving a slick sheen on top of the water.
Schedule A Yearly Service Appointment Whether You Think You Need It Or Not
Sometimes you need to trust an expert. Especially when it comes to your pools mechanical equipment pumps, filters, heating systems you may not have the proper knowledge for care. At least once a year, have a pool service professional come out to check your devices.Before your appointment, take a thorough look at your pool as a whole, making sure to use all of your senses. Compile a list of any leaks you see in the piping, holes you notice in the linear, loud sounds coming from the mechanisms, or odd smells coming from the water. Mention them to your serviceperson in oder to give him or her an idea of where to start.In the event that there is noting amiss with your pool, the yearly service appointment may seem like a waste of money and it can be tempting to cancel. But remember: Detecting and fixing a small problem now can save you from having to fix a huge crisis later down the road.
Check Water Levels During Weekly Pool Maintenance
This is a simple task compared with balancing chemicals or scrubbing at tiling. However, checking your water level is where it should be can give you an early warning about any potential problems that your pool may have.
If your water level is routinely kept too low, your pools pump will have to work overtime. This can cause it to burn out. Equally a pool with too much water is going to be a lot harder to keep chemically balanced.
Of course, with splashing and weather, you should expect the water level to move. Your weekly pool maintenance routine is the perfect time to set your water level right for the week.
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What Chemicals Are Needed To Close A Pool
Winter will be here soon, and for snowbelt pool owners, thoughts begin to turn towards closing up the pool for winter.
Now is a good time to take stock of your pool closing supplies winter chemicals, pool cover attachments, plugs and other gizmos used to close the pool.
Today we take a closer look at the chemicals used for winterizing swimming pools to keep the water fresh and clear, and prevent stains and scale on your pool.
Swimming Pool Secret #: Add Chlorine At The Right Time
Adding chlorine — calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite , sodium dichloroisocyanurate — to your swimming pool in the evening, instead of the morning can reduce cut your chemical costs in half.
Why? At night, chlorine is used up doing useful work in your pool, like oxidizing all that sweat and sun-tan lotion from your pool party. During the day, it mostly is wasted — lost to UV in the sunlight.
When you are first starting your swimming pool in spring, or when need to ‘shock’ your pool , it’s especially important to add in the evening.
Depending on stabilizer levels, and sunshine, you can lose half of the chlorine in the pool in as little as 30 minutes! Even when your swimming pool is stabilized, you can lose half the sanitizer in your pool in 4 hours. But, at night, all of the chlorine used up, was used up doing something useful to your pool water!
How Monsanto Cyanuric Acid Stabilizes Chlorine in Swimming Pools . . . And Helps Reduce Disinfection Costs, pgs. 7 – 9, Monsanto Technical Bulletin I-291, n.d.
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Not Covering Pool In Winter: Pros And Cons
Most pool owners in mild climates dont close or cover their pool in the winter. Some of the more common reasons people leave pools uncovered in winter include:
- Many people dont like how pool covers look.
- Some pool owners dont have space to store a pool cover.
- Other pool owners like to have the option of being able to just run and jump into the pool on those rare warm winter day.
- Some pool owners dont want the added hassle of having to roll off their pool cover.
- If you have a saltwater pool, you may go through more salt if you cover your pool.
- It can be difficult to find a suitable cover for irregularly-shaped pools.
- Covers are costly.
- Some pool owners want to use their pool year-round.
Do keep in mind that one warm winter day wont be enough to change your water temperature to make it comfortable for a dip. If you do decide to take the plunge, be prepared to feel more like a polar bear than a summer swimmer.
Standard pool covers, which range in price from $75-$250, are typically made of a tarp-like material, which means that if someone tries to walk on top of it, they will get wet or even worse, trapped. Rainwater can also get trapped on top.
The decision about whether or not to cover a pool in winter generally depends on the homeowner, what the specific needs are and how often the pool is used year- round. If you do decide to leave your pool open for the winter, there are some pool maintenance tasks you will need to perform during the winter.
Pool Chemical Training For Staff
- Train all staff in pool chemical safety basics and provide additional training for those working directly with chemicals.
- Include at least the following topics in operator training/certification to decrease the likelihood of pool chemical injuries:
- Impact of each pool chemical on the waters chemistry and the monitoring systems
- If the test kits limit is exceeded, how to measure higher chlorine levels
- Communication plan for alerting patrons, staff, and emergency responders
During an incident
After an incident
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Safety Suggestions For Pool Chemicals
- Keep pool chemicals away from other chemicals and locked up in a cool, dry place.
- Do not store pool chemicals near other chemicals or flammables, including petrol, detergents or alcohol.
- Always use chemicals strictly as instructed.
- Never combine chemicals together for example, mixing different types of chlorine together can cause an explosion.
- To avoid splashing the chemicals, always add the chemicals to water and not the other way around.
- Don’t add the water to the chemicals.
- If you are splashed, rinse contaminated clothing straight away and wash your skin thoroughly in plenty of water.
Vacuuming During Weekly Pool Maintenance
Vacuuming your pool has to be done pretty regularly to keep your pool in good condition. You have a few different options about how to do it though.
A robotic pool cleaner is by far the easiest way. These machines can take care of vacuuming by themselves.
Otherwise, you can use an automatic pool vacuum with some piping or just go for a vacuuming head on a pool pole.
An automatic pool vacuumed then you can leave running is a much easier solution to this problem. However, if you want to keep things low-tech with a pole and vacuum head then it will fit easily into your weekly pool maintenance routine.
Make sure that you vacuum every bit of your pool to prevent dirt from building in the base.
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