Pool Maintenance: DIY or Professional Help?
By Steven De Nazareth
Updated: May 20th, 2019
For most homes, a swimming pool is an important feature and it could be difficult and expensive to maintain. This is when you need to decide between a Do-It-Yourself option and professional help. Before you consider the options, you need to consider doing tasks like maintaining the filter, surface skimming, and chemical testing.
Pool maintenance is not a simple job as you have to be quite the expert in ensuring that you can do an adequate job. This means that you should have the know-how and the technique in cleaning your pool and with the right tools. Most homes, save themselves the trouble and get a professional to spend time maintaining their pool and keeping it clean.
So what does pool maintenance include?
Weekly Pool Maintenance
Usually, professional pool maintenance will cost you anywhere between $100 to $500 per month and this is based on location and the size of the pool. While in places like Florida, it costs $100 per month and in Virginia its close to $100 per week.
Pool care could include skimming the surface, vacuuming and brushing, and emptying skimmer baskets as well as using automatic cleaner bags. You need to also test the water balance and add balancing chemicals.
Another thing to check is the Sanitizer levels and if other water treatment chemicals are applied. The pump, chlorinator, filter, and heater must be checked and cleaned.
Although pool professionals have the experience and tools for greater efficiency than the average owner, simple pool maintenance tasks can be done on your own for a lot less money.
Pool Filter Maintenance
You should check the filter pressure gauge every few days. If it rises above 5 lbs then the water flow rate slows down and this makes filtration inefficient. Your pool filters need to be cleaned every 2-6 weeks based on the size, age, and the amount of dirt. This means that you should wait until the pressure gauge has risen from 5 to 10 lbs and this will tell you to clean the cartridges or backwash the pool filter.
When the pressure gauge is lower than normal then this could be due to the pump basket or skimmer baskets being full and having a restricted water flow. Most pump baskets have a see-through lid to tell you when it needs to be cleaned.
How To Clean a Pump Basket
Here’s how you clean a pump basket:
- If you have to empty the pump basket, you should shut off the pump, remove the lid and pull out the basket.
- Few baskets have a twist lock but most are a lift straight out. You should clean it, use a hose on it, and then re-insert the basket fully.
- After which you can replace the pump lid very tightly and turn on the pump.
The other pool filter maintenance items include replacement of the filter media and lubrication of the O-rings. All of this is DIY friendly. Pumps and heaters can run for 10 years without any mechanical problems or the need for a replacement.
When it comes to the three fundamentals of pool care, it includes circulation, cleaning, and chemistry. Usually, circulation is overlooked but this is an important area of pool maintenance. If you have a pool with good circulation then issues of algae and cloudy water developing will be rare. The biggest question is how long a pool pump and filter should run. This should be 24/7. But this is not the case as it will not work for everyone’s budget. Therefore, you should choose a pump that runs without a breakdown and where the filter can be changed easily.
Pool cleaning is tough after storms, but if you have the right process and equipment then you can clean like a pro. The first thing you should do is clean off the deck with a broom, leaf blower or with water. This will ensure that you do not slip and that more leaves or debris would not blow into the pool.
When you come to think of it, circulation is cleaning but its the automatic part of keeping a pool clean. However, your pool needs some good old-fashioned elbow grease. A pool with good circulation will need this less often but you should do your part to skim, vacuum and brush the pool on a weekly basis.
You can attach your Leaf Rake to the pool pole. Then you should extend the inner pole about four feet and lock it in place. This will ensure that you get a comfortable counter-balance. After which, you should walk briskly around the edge of the pool with the Leaf Rake back and forth across the surface. The leaf rake is useful to scoop piles of leaves from the floor and steps of the pool.
For a pool owner that prefers DIY maintenance, a pool vacuum would make it a lot easier. You can buy a pool vacuum for under $100 and vacuum the pool through the skimmer. A Skim-Vac plate makes the job faster. Be sure to invest in a good pool brush too. This pool brushing is not only good exercise but it also ensures that the water quality and clarity is maintained. You can also choose water powered or robotic vacuums that roam the pool, clean out bacteria, algae, dirt, and sand. Automatic pool cleaners should cost close to $1,500 but it will free up a week’s worth of time within the first season. You should always do your research on the best pool cleaners for you and your pool.
Pool Chemical Management
Pools need frequent chemical testing and adjustments. This means that you have to alter the pH levels by adding acid to lower pH or adding a base to raise it. You should also check the hardness, alkalinity and cyanuric acid levels weekly.
Chemical treatments should be consistently added and continuous chlorine must be used to regulate algae and bacteria growth. You can shock the pool with granular chlorine which clears the water by removing the contaminants and chloramines.
Using chemicals, you can benefit by using stain and scale to control metal and minerals. You can also use clarifiers to help an overworked pool filter, enzymes to control oils and organics and algaecides to control algae growth.
There are many pool owners that are not comfortable with the chemistry skills and actually drive a water sample to the pool store several times every season. Escape from pool store water testing with the pool test kit used at pool stores. You should test, analyze and calculate proper adjustment dosages.
Chemicals could easily confuse people but it’s actually very easy and there are very few chemicals that you need to worry about. You need to test the water before you add an assortment of chemicals that the pool store told you to. Testing the water is something you should do before adding any chemicals. This is easy to do even at home.
Testing the Water
There are three methods of testing pool water. The first is a liquid test kit, second is test strips and the third, of course, is taking a sample to the local pool store to have it professionally checked.
In order to properly test the water, you need a water sample. Simply use a clean cup or a bottle and hold it upside down so that the opening faces the floor. You should insert the water elbow deep and turn it right side up to collect the sample. Make sure you do not sample near return jets or skimmer openings. If it’s possible, take a sample from the middle of the pool. All you have to do is take this sample to the pool store and get it checked.
Using Test Strips
When it comes to home testing, test strips are very accurate and much more accurate than using a liquid test kit because of human error when it comes to matching up the colors and using chemical droplets.
Take your water sample and quickly dip one, dry strip into the water. Hold it still in the air for about 15 seconds. Do not shake off the excess water. You should then match up the colors of the strip to the back of the bottle to get your readings.
There are different kinds of test strips that you can buy that check for different things. But what you need to check for is for pH, alkalinity and free chlorine.
You should use test strips at least once a week and check the water every other day. You should bring the sample to your local pool store once a month to have a professional check it.
Using a Liquid Test Kit
There are different advanced liquid test kits but for home use you should stick with pH and chlorine or phenol red and OTO. Phenol red is a red chemical that you can add to a small sample of water to check the pH. The redder the water, the higher the pH. OTO is a chemical that tests the total amount of chlorine. It’s a yellow liquid that you add to the sample. The more the amount of yellow, the more chlorine. With a liquid test kit, it’s hard to see the low end of the colors. Make sure you use a white background to examine the colors to be accurate.
Only once you know what the pH, alkalinity and chlorine readings should be, you add chemicals. You should be sure to know what each chemical does and how it affects the water and the people that are swimming in it.
Checking Swimming Pool Stains
Swimming Pool stains can occur naturally or when metallic compounds and improper balanced pool water meet. There are usually two types of pool stains:
- Organic stains: Green, yellow, or brown and is a result of leaves, algae, mud, or other natural debris.
- Metal stains: Reddish-brown, or very dark in color and will commonly appear after chlorine is added or after the swimming pool is shocked with granular chlorine. Iron and copper are the two most common types of metal stains.
Organic stains are easy to remove but metal stains are difficult to remove. If the metal stain is not treated it can return. Some of the most common sources for metals in swimming pool water are likely sitting in your backyard.
Lawn fertilizer and well water can be the main causes for iron in your swimming pool water. Corrosion of copper pipes, pool heaters, and algaecides could cause copper to be present in water.
The best way to prevent metals from entering the water and causing stains is to keep your chemicals balanced within the recommended ranges at all times. It is not always easy to identify what type of stain, because some organic and metal stains can look similar in appearance.
You can use Stain ID kits to assist in determining the type of stain. In case your pool is not properly balanced the test results can be misidentified. This could lead to treating the wrong type of stain that will cost you both – time and money. This could create more problems in the future. This is why you need a pool cleaning professional to identify and treat the stain in your swimming pool correctly.
Also, you need to keep a clean and balanced pool. This is the best way to avoid stains before they begin to form. Weekly swimming pool maintenance is recommended to keep your pool looking its best and will lengthen the life of your pool equipment and pool surface.
Home Maintenance and Home Warranty
Pool maintenance is one of the many different home maintenance procedures that you will have to do. You should purchase a home warranty to take care of all these problems. The enhanced program will take care of your swimming pool. But it’s always good to know about these pool maintenance tips and tricks to ensure that you know what they are doing.
A home warranty will look after all damages caused by wear and tear. With a home warranty, repairs of your covered appliances would be taken care of all through the year. All you have to do is ensure that you pay the premium and the deductible and a technician will be right over to fix your appliances or systems. But, don’t forget if you’re looking for a home warranty then you should get your free home warranty quote. In case you have a home warranty and would like to share your experience then you can share the same about your home warranty company.
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