A backyard oasis is on everyone’s wishlist. Defining ‘oasis’ varies from person to person. My husband would love a basketball court in our backyard, and my kids would choose the biggest jungle gym you’ve ever seen, all while I lounge poolside in my bikini. And my drink better have a tiny umbrella. If it doesn’t, I demand to speak with the manager. Oh wait, that’s me.
Anyway, one of the drawbacks of a residential pool is the maintenance. As I said, I want to lounge. Not work. These tips and tricks get me relaxing faster than you can say “Daiquiri.”
Invest In a Filter
The heart of the pool is the filter. The filter removes impurities from the water, leaving it sparkling. Proper filtration and maintenance are critical to the enjoyment of your pool. There are three types of filters: sand, cartridge, and DE. Each has its pros and cons, but all work well and are relatively easy to use.
Clean the filter at least once a month. When the pool water starts looking dirty, turn off the pump, remove the filter, backwash it, and then replace it. An appropriately sized and operational filter keeps you from having to clean the pool yourself, meaning you can work on your perfect tan while something else does all the work.
Murky water, irritated skin, and bacteria are symptoms of an improperly balanced pool. Gross. Test your water once a week to ensure a good balance of the following:
- Cyanuric acid protects your chlorine from sunlight. The reading should be between thirty and fifty.
- Free chlorine keeps pool water germ-free. Cyanuric acid helps determine the required free chlorine level.
- The ideal PH level is between 7.5 and 7.8 to prevent irritation to the skin or eyes and keep pool equipment from eroding.
- Total alkalinity keeps PH in balance and should be between sixty and one hundred twenty.
- Correct levels of calcium prevent damage to the pool’s plaster. 220-350 is appropriate but should be lower for vinyl siding.
Testing these levels is easy with testing kits from the local pool store. When all of the chemicals are balanced, the water is clear, with no scent, and leaves no residue or irritation on the skin.
The downside to all of these chemicals is the cost. However, baking soda has the same concentration of sodium bicarbonate as the store-bought solutions, and it’s much cheaper for controlling the alkalinity of a pool.
Also don’t be afraid to shock your pool if it’s cloudy by temporarily raising the chlorine levels to kill bacteria. Twice a year is a good goal.
Use a Tennis Ball to Absorb Oil
Swimmers leave oils in the pool that are hard to clean. Sunscreen, natural oils, soap residue, hair products, and more are all left behind when we exit the pool. Throwing a tennis ball in the water helps to absorb these oils and keep them from leaving a cloudy layer on top of the pool.
Scrub and Skim
Skimming the top of your pool is a daily task to remove debris, and it doesn’t take long. But scrubbing is a different story. The bottom and sides of your pool need to be cleaned, just like kitchen tile or your teeth. There’s no way around it. It keeps your pool clean.
But have no fear. You can ditch the rubber gloves and enlist the help of a robot vacuum to clean the bottom of the pool for you. There are also robot cleaners that climb the sides of the pool and scrub the tile for you.
You should still give your pool a deep scrub now and then, but you don’t need expensive tools to do it. Use a scrub brush to prevent algae build up, and for stubborn spots, use an old sock filled with chlorine to spot treat and scrub again.
Watch the Water Level
One of the easiest things you can do to keep your pool clean is maintain a proper water level. Levels fluctuate after a heavy rain or a lot of splashing. The water should rise to halfway up the opening of the skimmer to ensure that water is cycled through the filter for regular cleaning.
If your water level gets too low, set up a hose to refill the pool and enjoy the sun while you wait. If water is too high, you can rent pumps from your local hardware or pool store to drain the excess. After reaching the appropriate water level, recheck the chemicals and continue sipping your daiquiri.
No one wants to swim in a dirty pool, but no one wants to spend all day cleaning either. Use these tips to keep your pool in tip-top shape for summer. Staying on top of them saves you time in the long run before your pool gets so filthy you can’t enjoy it.
This guest article is a contribution of Patrick Smith on behalf of Thailand Pool Shop.