Pool care may seem a tedious task, but it’s necessary to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones and to maintain the pool’s overall function. Neglecting the cleaning and pool maintenance will not only make the water unappealing, but it can also be hazardous.
From removing fallen leaves and debris to ensuring the proper chlorine levels, there are various techniques, equipment, and products available for pool maintenance that will help to keep your pool in optimal condition.
pool maintenance typically involves the following tasks:
- Skimming the surface to remove debris such as leaves and bugs.
- Vacuuming the bottom of the pool to remove dirt and debris.
- Brushing the walls and floor to remove algae and other buildups.
- Checking and adjusting the chemical balance of the water, including the pH, chlorine, and alkalinity levels.
- Emptying and cleaning the skimmer and pump baskets.
- Backwashing or cleaning the filter as needed.
- Inspecting and maintaining all equipment such as pumps, filters, and heaters.
It is recommended that pools are checked and maintained at least once per week, and more often during heavy use or hot weather.
Maintenance of swimming pool steps
The type of pool cleaning equipment you require will vary depending on various factors such as the type of pool (in-ground or above-ground), the size of the pool, the amount and types of debris it collects, the filtration and plumbing system in place, and your budget. It is essential to consider these factors when selecting the appropriate cleaner to ensure efficient and effective cleaning of leaves, dirt, and other contaminants.
Hand vacuuming is a cost-effective option for cleaning your pool. The vacuum is connected to the skimmer box to create suction, and then you physically move it around the surfaces of the pool using a pole. This method usually takes between 60-90 minutes and should be done at least once a week. It’s a DIY cleaning method.
Employ a pool cleaner
Hiring a pool cleaner is a great option if you prefer to have someone else take care of the cleaning. These services not only clean your pool, but they also ensure that all equipment is functioning properly and perform any necessary maintenance. The cost of regular visits may average around $55 or more. Keep in mind that a single, one-time visit may be more expensive.
Buy a mechanical pool cleaner
Kreepy Krauly is a well-known brand of suction pool cleaners, however, the term ‘creepy crawly’ is often used generically to refer to this type of pool cleaner. Suction pool cleaners are the most affordable and one of the more popular options for automatic pool cleaning. Other types of automatic cleaners include pressure cleaners, which are more expensive, and robot cleaners, which are the most costly option.
Without consistent sanitation and the use of pool chemicals, bacteria can grow in pools and pose significant health hazards. Factors such as water refills, leaves, grass, dust, and people contribute to bacterial growth. The size of the pool and these factors determine the level of sanitation required.
Keeping your chlorine levels stable is the most common method of sanitization used by pool owners, but there are other options such as ozone gas, UV sterilization, bromine, or ionization. However, these methods are not as popular in Australia. Health departments in Australia generally recommend that domestic pool owners maintain a chlorine residual in the pool.
There are three primary methods for domestic pool owners to maintain chlorine levels:
- Manual addition of chlorine by hand.
- Installation of a salt chlorinator, which is the most widely used method of domestic pool chlorination in Australia.
- Installation of a liquid chemical feeder, which automatically adds chlorine to the pool.
In addition to sanitation, it is also essential to maintain the chemical balance of your pool water. The chemical balance of your pool includes:
- pH level (acidity/alkalinity level): 68%
- Total Alkalinity (TA): 16%
- Calcium Hardness: 16%
It is recommended to check chlorine and pH levels at least once a week, or even daily if the pool is heavily used. The Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels can be monitored less frequently.
Maintaining the appropriate pH level in your pool is crucial for ensuring it is safe to use. Improper pH levels can cause skin irritation, red eyes, and decrease the effectiveness of chlorine.
pH ranges from 0 to 14, 7.0 being neutral, above 7.0 alkaline, and below 7.0 acidic. The recommended pH range for pool water in Australia is 7.0 to 7.8, with 7.4 being the optimal level. Rain, water refills, swimming, and chlorine can all affect the pH levels of the pool. To raise pH levels, soda ash (which is alkaline) can be added, and to lower them, pool acid can be used.
Total alkalinity (TA)
Low levels of total alkalinity can cause damage to pool surfaces and equipment as well as instability in pH levels. The recommended range for complete alkalinity in Australia is 60 to 200 parts per million.
To increase total alkalinity, “buffer” such as sodium bicarbonate can be added, and to decrease it, acid can be used. However, it’s important to keep in mind that adding acid can also affect pH levels.
Low levels of dissolved calcium in water can corrode pool equipment, while high levels can cause scaling. Calcium hardness levels cannot be measured using most domestic pool water testing kits.
To measure this, you will have to take a sample of your pool water to a local pool shop for testing. In areas where calcium levels are not high, this test should only be done once a year, unless you use calcium hypochlorite for sanitizing the pool.
There are a variety of kits available for testing pool water. A basic “four-in-one” test is a good starting point, which tests chlorine pool levels, alkalinity, pH, and the acidity level needed to balance the pH. Another option is to use electronic testers, which use disposable strips that you dip in the pool water. These strip readers tend to be more expensive than the traditional testing kits.
Manually adding chlorine is the most time-consuming method of sanitization. It involves testing the water to determine the appropriate amount of chlorine to use and is typically done every other day for the average backyard pool. This option may be suitable if you are renting a property with a pool and do not require a long-term solution.
Saltwater pools are a popular choice in Australia, but they still require chlorine. Saltwater pools use salt chlorinators to convert salt into chlorine gas, which is then dissolved in the water through the filtration system.
A salt chlorinator can be installed in the existing plumbing of any pool, except for above-ground pools with metal structures as they may rust. Some salt chlorinators are self-cleaning, while others require manual cleaning of the salt cell every fortnight. Self-cleaning models are more expensive, but require less maintenance. When installing a salt chlorinator, a initial manual addition of salt is required.
The recommended initial dose is 4kg of salt per 1000 litres. However, regular salt refills will be needed due to losses caused by backwashing, splashing and overflow. Salt chlorinators operate automatically and can be left unattended, ensuring your water remains clean while you are away.
They are also cost-effective to run and have a lifespan of about five years. The capacity of a chlorinator is usually measured in grams per hour. Some pool suppliers express the capacity in terms of the equivalent liquid, granular or tablet chlorine. As a reference, liquid chlorine is about 12-15% chlorine, granular chlorine is about 65% chlorine and tablets can be up to 100% chlorine.
Liquid Pool chemicals – feeders
Liquid chemical feeders are connected to the pool’s filtration system and automatically add liquid chlorine, and in some cases acid, to the pool water.
The basic models only inject chlorine into the pool, the amount and frequency of which is set by the user. These units usually start around $600. More advanced models have sensors that continuously measure the chlorine and pH levels of the pool, and adjust the amount of chlorine or acid accordingly.
This means that if 10 people jump into the pool, the system will automatically increase the chlorine level. These models start at around $2000, and there will also be ongoing costs for liquid chlorine and acid. Even though the more advanced models automatically monitor and adjust pH levels, it is still recommended to regularly test the levels manually.
Pool water heating
In colder climates, heating your pool can allow you to swim year-round. The ideal heating method for you will depend on your location, budget, and usage. The recommended pool water temperature is around 25°C.
Regardless of the heating method used, a solar or thermal blanket is an effective way to reduce heat loss during the night. These blankets not only retain heat but also reduce evaporation. Some state governments offer rebates for purchasing solar/thermal blankets, so it’s worth checking to see if any are available in your area.
Solar heating is an efficient option for areas with ample sunlight and a large roof area. It works by pumping pool water through rubber matting installed on the roof. The matting absorbs heat from the sun and transfers it to the water before it returns to the pool.
For optimal performance, the rubber matting should cover at least 80% of the surface area of the pool and ideally be installed on north- or west-facing roofs. Although solar heating is energy-efficient, cloudy days can leave the pool too cool for swimming. However, in warmer climates, a solar system can heat the water to 17-20 degrees for 10 months of the year. A solar controller can be used to preset the desired water temperature. In tropical climates where water becomes too warm, a solar heating system can also be used to cool it down by pumping water through the matting at night. Installation of a solar heating system typically starts around $5000 for a pool of 50,000 litres.
Natural gas can be used to heat your pool for constant warmth or occasional use. A thermostat can be used to maintain a consistent temperature. Occasional use is more cost-effective, but it requires planning as it may take 12-24 hours for the water to reach the ideal temperature. Gas Pool heaters typically start at around $6000 for an average-sized pool. Ongoing costs will vary depending on the cost of gas in your area.
Electric heating (heat pumps)
For year-round constant pool temperature, a heat pump can be a good option. It uses the same technology as air conditioning and refrigeration, drawing water from the pool and pumping it through a heat exchanger, making it energy efficient.
Initially, heat pumps take 2-4 days to heat the pool to an adequate temperature, so some planning is required if you only use it occasionally.
Small heat pumps start at $6000, but it could cost around $9000 to $10,000 for an average-sized outdoor pool, in addition to ongoing electricity costs.
pool care conclusion
maintenance of a pool requires regular cleaning, sanitization, and chemical balance. There are several options for cleaning, including doing it yourself with a hand vacuum, hiring a cleaning service, or using automatic cleaners such as Kreepy Krauly.
Sanitization is typically done with chlorine, but other options like ozone gas, UV sterilization, bromine, or ionization are also available. Chemical balance is important to ensure the safety of the water, and involves monitoring a pool’s pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels.
Heating options include solar, gas, and heat pumps. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on factors such as location, budget, and usage.
Ultimately, regular pool maintenance, looking after your pool equipment, and attention to water chemistry will help ensure that your pool’s water is safe, clean, and enjoyable for you and your family.