Angie's List: How can I maintain my pool this summer?
Before you get to splashing around and enjoying your in-ground pool this summer, ensure your family’s safety and your pool’s long life by engaging in proper preparation. Then, pay attention to pool care to keep your water clean and fresh.
OPENING THE POOL FOR THE SUMMER
The first time you open the pool, take great care to get the season off to a good start.
First, remove water and debris from your pool cover. Use a pump or siphon to get rid of water, and a leaf rake or vacuum to get rid of leaves and large debris. After that, remove the cover and allow it to dry. Brush the walls with a pool surface cleaner prior to filling the pool. Inspect all the plugs and components of your filter system, then fill the pool. Then, start your filter system. Use a leaf rake or vacuum to get rid of any remaining debris. Finally, test your water to make sure it’s balanced and sanitized in accordance with your pool’s instructions.
A professional pool cleaner can handle most of this work for you. You can also hire the pool pro to return at regular intervals over the summer. Depending on how often they visit, you can expect to pay between $75 and $200 per month.
A pool pro’s primary responsibility is maintaining the correct chlorine pH level. Too much chlorine can cause skin rashes and respiratory problems. Too little, and bacteria can spread in the water.
They’ll also verify that your pool has the appropriate chlorine level, clean the pool to prevent dirt and bacteria, replace dirty filter cartridges, scrub the walls and the floor, vacuum debris from the water and add chemicals to the water to prevent algae from developing.
In between professional cleanings, you can keep your water crystal clear by taking these steps yourself:
Once per week:
— Add pool shock, which breaks down organic matter and disinfects the water. Both chlorine-based and non-chlorinated products are available, but it’s important to add the chemical in the proper ratio to your pool’s total water volume. Follow the label instructions or consult with a pool maintenance provider to determine the best ratio for your pool.
— Add a maintenance dose of algae prevention.
— Brush the pool walls thoroughly.
— Use a pool vacuum to clean the floor of debris.
Twice per week:
— Use test strips to check and maintain pool chemical levels. The water’s pH should measure between 7.4 and 7.6. Chlorine, if used, should measure between 1 to 3 parts per million.
— Empty the pool filter baskets.
— If your pool has tile work, clean the tiles at the water line with a pool surface cleaner.
— Use a skimming tool to remove leaves, insects and any other floating debris from the water’s surface.
— Check your pump, heater and thermostat. Contact your pool pro if you don’t feel water at the jets or you notice temperature problems.
While you’re enjoying your pool, don’t forget to practice basic safety. Keep the pool fenced off and don’t allow children to swim unsupervised.
Paul F.P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.