If you are a pool owner, you know the joys of having your own aquatic paradise in your backyard. You also realize that it takes some elbow grease and know-how to keep your personal oasis in pristine condition. It all comes down to water care. Fronheiser Pools has put together an all-purpose guide to help you achieve that goal — Water Care 101: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know. We will cover the topics of keeping your pool clean, the importance of good circulation, and the basics of pool chemistry.
Keeping the Pool Clean
It is a fact of life that some physical labor is required to keep your swimming pool clean. An hour or so a week should be sufficient to keep matters under control. That being said, you will need some basic equipment to provide the most effective water care.
- Telescopic pole. A telescopic pole is a good place to start. You will use it interchangeably with your manual vacuum, your net skimmer, and pool cleaning brush.
- Pool skimmer/leaf net. A skimmer is a flat net used for scooping up floating leaves and other debris from the surface of the pool. A leaf net is a deeper basket-shaped net that is great for picking up a lot of debris at once.
- Pool brush. You need a good pool brush to clean the sides and water line of the pool. A brush with stiff bristles is used on gunite or fiberglass pools. You need a brush with softer bristles for the more delicate surface of a vinyl liner pool.
- Manual pool vacuum. A manual pool vacuum and hose can be used to regularly clean the pool or just be used for spot cleaning problem areas. Our blog post on “What’s the Right Way to Use a Pool Vacuum” has lots of tips on the correct method for using a manual vac.
- Robotic pool vacuum. An automatic or robotic pool vacuum is a huge time saver. Not only can it save you a ton of time, it keeps your pool clean without you having to do much of anything. The effective job that an automatic pool vac does to clean your pool is well worth the purchase price. Take a look at our blog post “Best Robotic Pool Cleaners in 2022” for information on the latest models and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Keep the Water Circulating
If your pool water were to be left in its natural state, you would soon have cloudy water, algae, mosquitos, tadpoles and more. Stagnant water may be good for pond life, but it is not at all what you want in your swimming pool. For that reason, we have essential pool equipment that keeps the water circulating and therefore clean, clear, and beautiful. Your pool pump and pool filter are the workhorses that keep your pool water the way you want it to be.
- The pool pump. It has been said many times that your pool pump is the heart of your swimming pool. What does the pump do? It works to pull the pool water through to the other pieces of pool equipment to be heated, filtered, and treated, then pushes it back into the pool. In the past, the pool pump was a large consumer of energy, but today’s variable speed pumps have changed up the game completely. The speed of the pump can be raised or lowered, and therefore used for a longer period of time at a lower speed. This uses a lesser amount of energy at a lower cost to the pool owner. Variable speed pumps could save you up to 90% on your energy bill compared to the pool pumps of the past. Our blog post “All About Variable Speed Pool Pumps” is full of helpful information.
You may be wondering how long to run a pool pump each day for the best results. We used to advise “at least 8 hours a day,” which is the standard amount of time needed to turn over the volume of water in a pool. With the prevalence of variable speed pumps these days, pool pumps can be run for much longer without a big expense to the pool owner. Typically, variable speed pumps are run up to 12 hours each day, completing several water turnovers and producing cleaner water at a lower cost.
- The pool filter. If we think of the pool pump as the “heart” of the pool, we could compare the pool filter to the liver. It sounds like a weird analogy, but when you think of it, the filter pool clears out a lot of contaminants and small particles just as our liver filters our blood. In order for the pool filter to do its job effectively, it needs to be cleaned often, preferably once a month. Luckily, cleaning pool filters is pretty simple. Depending on what type of filter you have, the cleaning method may vary. Check your manufacturer’s instructions for your specific filter type.
The Nitty-Gritty on Pool Chemicals
Even with a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule, and a top-of-the-line pool pump and filter, your pool could still turn into a murky swamp without the addition of one more critical component. That would be your arsenal of pool chemicals to provide the ultimate in water care. Plant, animal, and insect debris constantly falls into our pools. Plus, every time someone swims in the pool they leave behind body oil, sunscreen, dead skin, and other bacteria and contaminants. The thing that keeps these substances from turning our pool into a lagoon is sanitizer. However, in order for your sanitizer to work as it should, there are other chemicals that need to be added to keep your blue water clear and inviting. Let’s take a look at what basic chemicals you should keep on hand.
- Pool testing kit. Your liquid water testing kit or test strips are your basic starting point. Pools need a certain balance of chemicals to keep bacteria and algae growth under control. To do that, you need to test the water at least once a week.
- Ideal chemical levels.
pH level: 7.4-7.6 ppm (how acidic or basic the water is). You will need pH increaser and pH decreaser.
Alkalinity: 100-150 ppm (works as a buffer to increase or decrease pH). Have an alkalinity increaser on hand.
Calcium hardness: 180-220 ppm (how hard or soft the water is). If your pool water is too soft, it could cause damage to your pool. Adding a calcium hardness increaser to the water will solve this issue.
Sanitizer: This is the chlorine, bromine, biguanide or other product you use to keep your pool water sanitized.
Once you understand where these elemental chemical levels should be, you are on your way to learning how to tweak them to get them where you want them. Fronheiser Pools is an invaluable resource to our customers as a source of advice and information on water testing, water care, and what products to use to achieve chemical balance in your swimming pool’s water.
Chemicals: Beyond the Basics
There will be times when your pool sanitizer will need some help from other products in order to keep your pool water as pristine as you want it to be. Here are some examples of issues that may occur from time to time and what “extras” you can add to provide the best water care.
- Pool shock. To make sure your pool water stays clean all the time you will need to add pool shock. After a heavy rainstorm, after a pool party, and typically once a week as a matter of course during the summer, you will shock your swimming pool. Pool shock is an extra heavy dose of chlorine that keeps algae and bacteria from gaining a foothold. Check out our informative blog post on “Your Ultimate Guide to Using Pool Shock the Right Way.”
- Algaecide. Your pool shock will do a good job of keeping your pool algae free, but times occur when it isn’t enough. Some people regularly add an algaecide after shocking the pool.
- Pool clarifier. When you discover your pool water is cloudy and uninviting, you want to take action. This is the time you want to have a supply of pool clarifier, which causes small debris particles to coagulate into larger pieces to be collected by the filtration system.
- Flocculant. If your pool is super cloudy to the point where you can’t even see the bottom, you may need to use a flocculant. This product also causes the debris particles to coagulate, but they are much larger clumps that will fall to the bottom of the pool rather than be filtered out. You will need to vacuum these particles up off the floor of the swimming pool in order to remove them from the pool.
Handling Pool Chemicals Correctly
Using chemicals is a regular part of swimming pool water care. It is essential to use some common-sense safety precautions when using them. Avoiding injury can be accomplished by paying attention to these details:
- Store chemicals properly. They should be kept in their original containers, never stacked, always kept dry, and away from sources of ignition.
- Never mix chemicals. That means not emptying leftover chemicals into a fresh container of the same chemical because a reaction could occur. Also, it is wise to use a clean measuring device when using one chemical after another.
- Follow the package instructions. Read all label instructions carefully. Common directions will be how to dilute the chemicals, what order to add chemicals to the water, and how long to wait before safely entering the pool.
Water Care 101: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know is just the beginning of all of the helpful info you can find. We hope this article and the links to our other informative blog posts will help you on the way to understanding your pool and providing the care it needs to be the sparkling focus of your backyard. And always remember that the professional staff at Fronheiser Pools is on hand to test your water, provide answers to your water care questions, and recommend all the products that will help you achieve the pool of your dreams. Happy swimming!