Swimming Pool Maintenance Tips

How to Maintain a Swimming Pool

Timer -- a residential pool pump should run 8-12 hours per day during summer and during any usage or warm weather times. During colder months 5-7 hours is normally sufficient. The time of day the pool runs is important. Typically we run our pools 10AM to 6PM, or longer if it’s a high maintenance pool. Code now requires 2 speed pumps to only run on high for the first 2 hours of run time then revert back down to low speed to save energy, pools with solar can run longer on high for purposes of heating using solar.

Pump -– all pool pumps will have a strainer basket to catch large debris before getting to the pump impeller and filter. The lid is usually clear and a visual inspection is normally sufficient to see if basket needs to be cleaned. If you take the lid off make sure the o-ring seal for the lid is clean and not brittle o-ring should be lubed with a silicone rubber lubricant occasionally. Strainer should be checked once a week more often if your pool is getting a lot of leaves and debris.

Pressure gauge -- the pressure gauge is a good tool to monitor water flow. Low pressure typically means there is no water getting to the pump or an air leak is present before the pump. High pressure is result of blockage in the lines. The main culprit on high pressure is a dirty filter or improper valve placement. A baseline for pressure should be established with a clean filter and open valves, then variations of plus or minus 5psi inspections need to be made.

Cleaning -- a weekly cleaning is typically sufficient to insure a properly working pool sometimes more in the summer and sometimes you can get away with less in the winter.
Cleaning is basically getting the debris out and brushing the entire pool.

Water Testing – there are 5 main aspects to water testing

  1. Chlorine – chlorine is the sanitizer in the pool or basically what kills off the bad stuff.
    Chlorine is typically bought in three styles
    Tablets – normally 3” round these are slow dissolving and have a low ph level, also they contain stabilizer, so be careful to control stabilizer levels and not let them get over 100 PPM.

    Liquid — normally bought in 1 gallon or 2.5 gallon refill jugs, liquid is fast acting and have a high ph level.

    Granular — normally sold in a 1 pound bag called shock it is fast acting, has low pH

  2. pH – determines whether the water is acidic or alkaline based. High ph will cause scaling on the pools surface and minimizes chlorine effects. Low ph causes corrosion of metals in the pool. Normal ph range is 7.2-7.8. 7.0 being neutral and normally our eyes are about 7.5 so we try to keep the water around 7.5 to keep our eyes from burning.

  3. Alkalinity – this is the controlling factor to keep the ph from changing. Ph and alkalinity work hand in hand raising or lowering one will affect the other but not equally. Typically when checking the water we will have a high ph and add acid to lower. Over time it also lowers alkalinity. If you check ph and it is low always check alkalinity and it will normally also be low. Fix the alkalinity and you fix the ph. To raise add Sodium Bicarbonate.

  4. Calcium Hardness – proper hardness levels will keep the pools finish healthy and balanced. 250-350 ppm levels are ideal but levels up to 500 can be ok if water is properly adjusted, see a pool professional. Low levels in pool water can create situations where the water gets aggressive and wants to remove calcium from the pools finish or from the grout around the tile. High levels over time can create calcium build up(scale) on tiles and the pools surface. Metal such as copper and iron can easily stain calcium build ups requiring a stain removal treatment.

  5. Cyanuric Acid also known as Stabilizer -- 60-90 ppm this is added to our pools water to protect it from UV rays which use up available chlorine, but too much stabilizer and it will lock up chlorine keeping it from sanitizing the pools water.

Chemical levels check weekly. Check at home pool store

Chlorine---3.0 to 5.0 ppm, weekly calcium 250-350 check every 2 months

PH ---7.2 – 7.8 Muriatic acid to lower

Alkalinity--- 80-140 ppm, Acid to lower, sodium bicarbonate to raise

Calcium Hardness levels--- 250-350 ppm levels are ideal, add calcium chloride to raise, mix with water to dilute before adding to pool
Cyanuric Acid also known as Stabilizer---60-90 ppm add UV stabilizer to pool or skimmer

Filter –- there are 3 styles of filters all of which should normally be cleaned once a month, more during times of heavy debris and sometimes less is acceptable during clean periods.
Filter will normally have a sticker indicating one of the following types:

  1. Cartridge filter – has a large paper style filter inside (looks like a large car air filter) these filters will have a screw lock or knob to loosen the lid of filter assembly. Once the lid is removed you will be able to pull the filter out and clean by using the water hose with a pressure nozzle to rinse the debris off the filter. These filters normally will be replaced every 1-2 years they also have an o-ring seal like the pump strainer lid that should be cleaned and treated the same.

  2. D.E. filter – Diatomaceous Earth filters will have a filter grid inside the filter assembly that the D.E. powder sticks to and creates the filtering method. Cleaning of a D.E. filter is done by turning the main valve from the filter position to the back wash position. Always turn the pump off when rotating the valve. About 20 second after turning the pump on in the backwash position you should see the waste water running out (look at the sight glass if your waste water doesn’t come out near the filter) turn to a dirty brown color once the water turns clean the filter is clean (normally) clean Consult the label on filter to see how much D.E. to add back. This is done by measuring out the D.E. mixing with water into a bucket and creating a slurry, and then pouring the D.E. slowly back into the skimmer make sure you have turned the valve back to the filter position. The waste position on the main valve just drains water out of the pool it doesn’t clean the filter.

  3. Sand Filters cleaning is done the same as a D.E. filter however the sand stays in the assembly you only add sand during a complete filter servicing.

*** D.E. filters normally will need a yearly professional cleaning and inspection


Phosphates, Problems and Removing –- Phosphate have become a real problem for pool owners, phosphates are the food for algae and stripping them out of your pool is the only way to never have algae. They use up chlorine and make salt systems work harder. Removing phosphates is not a part of our standard weekly maintenance but can be an added on to what we do. We add a Phosphate remover to your water, the water will get very cloudy as the remover comes in contact with the phosphates, we'll run the pump for one to two days until the pool clears, and we'll come back to clean the filter. The filter may look like white jelly if the pools water had a high amount of phosphates. We do charge extra for removing phosphates as this is an extra service.


Scaling Caused by Calcium Build Up –- Scaling can build up in plumbing, and on surfaces of tile and your pools finish. While there are many causes, incorrect start up, unbalanced water or high pH readings, scaling can be an unsightly problem.

Today we're addressing high pH associated with Chlorine Generators(Salt Systems). The Chlorine produced by Salt cells has a very high pH. Weekly adjustments of acid to your pools water lowers pH, but it again rises each day, this will eventually cause some scaling and the hotter the water gets, this increases scaling chances. We recommending turning solar temperatures down or off.

We can treat this with a product called Scale Tec. This is a corrective treatment, every scale problem is different, some clean up easily and others need multiple treatments. Once cleaned up we offer a Maintenance dose of Beautec, this can be added to our maintenance for a small additional charge. We have very good results with these products.


Salt Generators -- Salt Pools as we know them have equipment which produces chlorine from salt which has been dissolved into the pools water. Each brand of system requires a curtain salinity level typically 2800-3800 ppm. Salt levels need to be maintained in this range and when adding salt always turn the system off for 24 hours to let the salt totally dissolve before turning back on. The “Cell” which creates the chlorine must be inspected every 3 months and cleaned if needed using diluted muriatic acid and water. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for your system. Not using your system correctly will cause premature failure of cell or main circuit board. Always read and refer to owners manual and if you do not have one, going to your manufacturers web site, you can down load and print one for your records. Cells have a predetermined life expectancy, taking good care of one can extend the value to having a salt pool.

Scaling Flakes -- Pools with salt systems create chlorine with a very high pH of 13. pH scale is zero to 14 and for pools 7.2 to 7.8 is the good range. Combine this with solar heat and this hot water coming off the roof right into the salt cell creates an out of balance water condition that creates a scaling situation which builds up in your pipes. When it releases it enters the water as calcium carbonate flakes.

If there are phosphates in the water these phosphates will attach themselves to the soft calcium carbonate. The treatment is 3 fold, 1st we add Scale Tec to your pool ( ½ gallon per 10,000 gallons) this will remove the flakes. 2nd we add ½ gallon of Beautec to get the concentration of this product high enough to prevent future scaling. We then add a dosage each month to your pool to keep the concentration of Beautec high enough.

3rd when we’re breaking down the scaling with these products we have found that this scale is now releasing the phosphates back into the water so we need to have your pool on a Phosphate removal maintenance treatment. Phosphates are the food in the water that allows algae to grow even with chlorine in the water. This product will allow the filter to remove the phosphates.

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