Savvy customers know to ask a few questions before committing to a purchase.
“This is a great car, but how many miles can it go per gallon?”
“I’d love to add an electric fireplace to my home, but will it drive up my energy bills?”
“A swimming pool would be a great addition to my backyard, but how much is it going to cost me, in terms of time and money, to clean and maintain it?”
We can’t speak to gas mileage or electricity charges, but swimming pools? That’s what we know best.
We actually love getting questions like this because it not only gives us a chance to show off some of our knowledge and expertise, but because it also lets us know that the client understands that the best things in life, like a private swimming pool in your own backyard, are well worth the effort they require to keep them in top condition.
And we also love to see the look of surprise on their face when we tell them that cleaning and maintaining your swimming pool is way easier than you think. And no, you don’t have to hire a professional pool cleaning service (unless you want to).
Before we dive into the simple steps you can take to maintain a shimmering, glass-like, crystal-clear swimming pool, let’s talk a little bit about why it’s so important to keep your pool clean.
The Importance of a Clean Swimming Pool
Like a jewel in the center of your backyard, a gorgeous, clear, sparkling swimming pool is a joy to behold. Every time you look at it, you’ll get the urge to throw on a suit and jump in the water (your neighbors just might show up at your door, towel in hand, too).
But the importance of a pristine pool goes way beyond aesthetics. It’s also about hygiene and efficiency.
As you may know, water can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Just look at ponds. Left to themselves, they give rise to a teeming ecosystem of scum, critters, plants, and other forms of life. Good for nature, but definitely not the environment you want in your backyard. A clean pool is a sanitized pool—one that is free of harmful bacteria and safe for everyone in your family to splash around in.
A clean pool is also an efficient pool. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So when it comes to chemically treating your pool, it’s far better (and cheaper) to take a preventive maintenance approach by regularly cleaning and maintaining it so it doesn’t need a larger-scale cleaning to clear up a backlog of dirt, debris, and other unwelcome gunk.
What’s more, contaminants and pollutants can actually damage the structure of your pool and all of its intricate parts. Chemical corrosion and mineral build-up are to your swimming pool what rust is to a classic car. Avoid the hassle and expense of having to repair and rebuild parts of your pool by committing to good care and maintenance.
Secrets to Maintaining a Clean and Safe Swimming Pool
So what exactly does good care and maintenance look like? Is there a secret hack that simplifies things so you can minimize cleaning time and maximize fun-in-the-pool time?
Yes, there is! The secret is scheduling.
Creating and sticking to a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule is what will make it a breeze to enjoy crystal-clear swimming pool water every single day. Now, before you can create this schedule, you have to know what needs to get done. This part is pretty simple, too.
Your cleaning schedule should include the four key elements of your swimming pool:
- The water in the pool
- The interior wall or liner of the pool
- The pool’s filter system
- The pool’s system of skimmers and returns
Step-By-Step Pool Cleaning Instructions
So, how do you make sure the four elements mentioned above get the TLC they need? Here are the simple steps to take to create a pool cleaning schedule.
1. Test and Balance Your Water Chemicals Every Week
The health of your pool all comes down to chemistry. You have to keep an appropriate balance of chemicals to make sure the bacteria doesn’t take over and turn your pool into a swamp.
Start by testing your water. A water testing kit lets you see just what is (and isn’t) in your water.
You’re looking for a few key things:
- pH level: You want to see a number between 7.4 or 7.6, otherwise your pool water is too acidic (low pH level) or basic (high pH level).
- Alkalinity: You want to see a number between 100 to 150 parts per million (ppm). This guards against sudden swings in the pH level.
- Sanitizer levels: Numbers will vary according to what kind of sanitizer you use in your pool water, whether it’s chlorine, bromine, or something else.
With these numbers in hand, you can then start adding chemicals in the appropriate amounts to achieve just the right level of balance for crystal-clear pool water.
2. Skim, Brush and Vacuum Every Few Days
The floor, walls, and water of your pool all collect stuff as time passes. It can be big, visible stuff, like fallen leaves, twigs, and pet and human hair, as well as microscopic stuff, like bacteria and spores. Whatever “stuff” hangs around in your pool affects the chemicals and the balance. And the longer they’re left to fester, the worse it gets, creating cloudy water that is chemically unbalanced.
So your job is to dive right in and do three things:
- Skim the pool every other day
- Brush down the walls of the pool twice a week, minimum
- Vacuum the bottom of the pool twice a week, minimum
3. Check Your Pool Filter Regularly
The right pool filter will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to cleaning. But because they take on so much work, you have to check in on them regularly to make sure nothing has gotten jammed in them. They’re like an employee who works hard but can get off track easily—they’ll get a lot done but they need the proper oversight to ensure they’re doing things right.
Different pools have different filtering systems but in general, you want to clean them every month and replace them every year.
4. Shock your pool once a week
Every pool owner is destined to become an expert at shocking their pool. Despite what the term suggests, it doesn’t involve zapping the water with electricity, but rather adding a healthy dose of chemicals to the pool in order to raise the chlorine level and kill off algae, bacteria, and other potentially nasty stuff.
Plan to shock your pool once a week. It’s also a good idea to shock the water after a lot of people have been in the pool (like after a party) or after a storm that has introduced a lot of rainwater to the mix.
Bonus tip: Only shock your pool at night. The chlorine doesn’t stand a chance against the sun’s powerful UV rays, so if you throw your chemicals in while it’s broad daylight, they’ll get zapped before they can work their magic.
More Helpful Tips and Tricks
With your cleaning and maintenance schedule in place and humming along, you’re guaranteed a swimming pool that is well-balanced and so clear you can see straight to the bottom. But if you want to take things a little further, there are a couple of extra tips and tricks to make your pool the absolute Platonic ideal of clarity and cleanliness.
Automatic Pool Cleaners
First is using an automatic pool cleaner. You can just drop this little robot cleaner into your pool and it goes to work trundling along the floor and walls of your pool, sucking up bits and pieces, so that when you go to do your weekly skimming and brushing, it’s a far easier (and quicker) task.
Next, throw some tennis balls into your pool’s skimmer basket or lob them straight into the pool itself. Why? The green fuzzies work like a magnet, grabbing and hanging onto surface oils that can build up in your pool from sunscreen, beauty products, and other common contaminants.
Finally, find your oldest pair of pantyhose and repurpose them as a skimmer basket cover. This creates a second, ultra-fine layer of filtration that will do a much better job than your skimmer basket can on its own.
Signs It’s Time to Check the Water Chemistry
Even the best laid plans sometimes fail and the same holds true for your swimming pool. Despite sticking to a thorough care and maintenance schedule, sometimes your water chemistry can get out of whack anyway. Heatwaves and rainstorms are common culprits.
How will you know if your water chemistry needs to be brought back in line? There are a few telltale signs.
Algae is hard to miss. It builds upon the floor and walls of the pool and drifts in weird little spots and clumps on the surface of the water. Whether it’s from poor water circulation, a wonky pH level, a malfunctioning pool filter, or something else, it needs to be treated right away because no one likes to get out of the pool looking like a swamp thing, with bits of green hanging off them.
Cloudy or Discolored Water
As soon as your water starts looking opaque or less than crystal clear, it’s time to break out the water testing kit. Cloudy water can be caused by many things, and the test kit will help you pinpoint exactly where things have gotten off track.
Mysteriously Low Water Levels
If you find that you have to continually add water to your pool, it’s likely you have a leak somewhere that needs to be addressed. Where chemicals come into play is if you’ve been adding new water (typically from a garden hose), you’ve probably been diluting the existing chemicals and reducing their efficacy.
Clear or Pink Slime
Once again, the garden hose is often at the root of this pool issue. It’s easy for gunk to build up inside the hose, out of sight, and the slimy, bacterial mess gets transferred straight into the pool when you top it up.
Strong Chlorine Smell
Here’s a fun fact: when chlorine is used in the proper amount and is effectively sanitizing your pool, it doesn’t really have a smell. So if you can smell the chlorine in your pool from down the block, it’s a sign that the chemicals in the water aren’t properly balanced.
Pool Service at Van Dorn Pools & Spas
Turn your backyard into an oasis with a swimming pool from Van Dorn Pool and Spas. Our dedicated and knowledgeable agents will walk you through the process, from selecting the perfect pool for your space and lifestyle, all the way through to installation and upkeep.
Looking for more information? Check out our fully-loaded FAQ section for detailed answers to the most common questions about swimming pools. Or dive into our blog, which features extensive, customer-friendly information on all the ways you can upgrade your backyard with a pool, hot tub, or swim spa.