It Takes Work to Keep a Pool Clean, But These Tricks May Surprise You
Pool maintenance is one of the necessary evils of pool ownership. So long as you maintain a regular schedule and don’t neglect it, you can enjoy your pool for years to come. The time and costs involved in chemicals and equipment can really add up, however. Try some of these simple, cheap tricks that you may not have thought of to save both time and money.
- Baking soda to the rescue – If you’ve ever seen an “alkalinity increaser” while shopping for chemicals to maintain pH levels, you may have noticed that’s it’s also quite expensive. But you probably didn’t know that baking soda can do the exact same thing for a lot less money. The amount you add depends on the size of your pool. For every 10,000 gallons of water, you’ll add one and a half pounds of baking soda to raise alkalinity by 10 ppm. Don’t add more than this at one time. Test the pH and total alkalinity within 24 hours. Then add more baking soda if necessary.
- Who let the dogs in? – As much as some dogs love to jump in and swim with the family, be aware that chlorine can irritate your dog’s skin. Plus, having a dog in the pool means more dirt and hair, which means you’ll have to clean the pool more often, especially the filters. Keep your dogs out of the pool if possible. If you can’t stand to leave Spot out of the water fun, keep chlorine levels below 3.0 ppm for his safety.
- Watch the water line – Dirt and residue from sunscreen and other such sticky particles tend to get stuck on the tile at the water line. If you can clean that area weekly, it will lessen the need to clean the whole pool as often, plus it will remove calcium buildup so your tile stays shiny.
- Don’t forget the perimeter – Meaning, don’t forget to clean the cement and paths all around the pool area regularly so dirt and grime is less likely to be tracked into the pool.
- Turn down the heat – Everyone likes a heated pool, but keeping the water above a cozy 82 degrees can result in a huge power bill. Instead, try a solar cover or solar-powered pool heater, which will take advantage of those hot summer rays and save you money down the line.
- Tennis, anyone? – This trick may really surprise you. It’s super important to wear sunscreen if you’re enjoying your pool in the midday sun, but all those oils and other substances can accumulate quickly and make your pool dirty. For a quick and easy way to prevent the gunk from building up, toss in a tennis ball. It floats, plus the fabric on it sucks up all the oily gunk. It’s okay to leave it in there at all times, though you may want to replace it after a while so it won’t get saturated with sunscreen.
- Bucket brigade – Actually, you only need one bucket for this trick. Pools normally lose some water due to changes in humidity and temperature, but your pool shouldn’t lose more than a quarter of an inch per day. An easy way to measure this is by keeping a weighted bucket in one spot on the pool stairs. Mark the water level with a permanent marker so you can see if there are any big drops in water level, which could indicate a leak.
- Suck it up – How and how often you vacuum your pool depends on how much you use the pool. Any time you see leaves or other junk on the pool bottom, it’s time to brandish the vacuum. To mix a little fun into the chore, you can get in the water with a manual pool vacuum and get down to business. You can also make this job super easy with a robotic pool vacuum. Just turn the little guy on and off he’ll go across the sides and bottom while you do whatever.
- Backwash isn’t a bad word – Not when it comes to maintaining your sand filter. If your pressure gauge on the filter goes 10 pounds above startup pressure, it’s time to backwash that baby. It’s a lot cheaper than replacing all the sand. Debris gets washed out through the waste pipe when the water’s going in reverse. This five minute job should be done every couple weeks and will greatly expand the life of your filter.
- Be wary of salt – That is, if you have a salt pool. Some people call it a no-chlorine pool, which is a misnomer. It actually just produces the chlorine for you so you don’t have to buy or handle it yourself. However, these systems can be really touchy in that you’ll have to be super vigilant with pool chemistry so it functions properly. Since salt systems push pH up, you’ll have to keep adding acid to balance things out. Unless you’re willing to be a vigilant babysitter, it might be best to avoid salt systems.
- Keep em separated – Pools and sunshine go hand in hand, but not so with your pool chemicals. Keep them out of direct sunlight at all times, preferably in a cool, dry place such as a basement. Don’t, for the love of chemistry, store acid and chlorine next to each other. If they were to burst and mix together, you’re looking at a chlorine gas cloud which can be super toxic and even fatal.
- Guard your skimmer – Skimmer baskets don’t have a glamourous job, but they are essential in keeping your pool free of debris. If not cleaned out regularly, you’ll have a really hard time keeping the pool clean. Plus, a clogged basket can damage the pool pump. It’s super simple to clean the skimmer basket. Just make it a habit to clean it at least weekly. Be sure to check it right after storms, and always check for damage to the basket each time you remove it to empty it.
Stay on top of pool maintenance by employing these simple tricks. Not only are they easy, but you’ll save a lot of time and money and will reduce your chances of costly pool repairs.