Having a pool can be awesome — you get to swim without going to the gym or rec center, it’s a nice way to relax, and pools make every party much more fun. The one drawback to having a pool? Keeping it cleaned and maintained. Sure you could let algae and leaves collect and ignore it, but you’ll end up causing an unsafe situation or ruining the pool itself. Besides, who wants a huge dirty tub of water in their backyard? If you find the cost of hiring a pool maintenance professional a bit pricey, try doing the work yourself. It’s really not as tedious or time consuming as many people think.
Here are 10 ways that you can easily maintain your pool by yourself.
1. Keep the skimmer and filter basket clean to make sure your pool filter runs well. The skimmer collects debris such as twigs and leaves, and it covers the filter basket. Simply take the cover off your skimmer, remove the debris, take out the basket and empty anything that’s in it, then replace all of the components. There’s no tools involved and it will take you just a few minutes to get the job done. Be sure to have a trash bag with you or a place to put all of the debris — you’ll be surprised just how much collects in there. Here’s a demonstration of just how easy cleaning a pool skimmer and basket is:
2. If you prefer to close your pool when it gets cold in your area, it’s possible to do so on your own. You’ll need a pool cover and winter cover clips, closing chemicals, and winter plugs — you can get all of these at pool supply stores. After adding the closing chemicals to your pool, drain it so that it’s 8 inches below the skimmer. Take out the pool filter, drain plugs, and pump hoses, and store them away in a dry place for the winter season. Put the winter plug in your pool’s return line, cover the pool, and keep it closed with the winter cover clips.
3. Testing your pool’s chemical balance is important, but there’s no need to call someone out to do it. Just about every pool supply store sells testers that you can easily use at home, and it will save you money to do the job yourself. Test the pH and chlorine levels of your pool at least twice a week. If you decide to purchase a kit rather than testing strips, here’s how to use it:
4. Get a hand skimmer and start skimming. You’ll know it’s time to do skim when your pool starts looking cloudy, or worse, greenish. Skincare items and sunblock, dust, sediment, and dirt from outside all need to be taken away from your pool’s surface. Instead of moving the skimmer forwards and backwards, use a small circular motion. It’s so easy that you can even give older children this task:
5. Pools with a sand filter should be backwashed regularly to keep functioning properly. Shut the filter off before starting. Then, put the handle of the filter in the backwash position, turn the filter system back on, and water will start to go through the hose. Let this continue until the water is clear, which usually takes three to four minutes. Turn the filter off again, put the handle to the rinse setting, turn the system on, and then let it rinse for two to three minutes. Shut the system off just once more, set the handle back to the filter setting, run the system, and go enjoy your pool. Doing this once a week should is sufficient.
6. On occasion, there will still be debris at the bottom of your pool that brushing or its automatic cleaning system won’t remove. When this happens, manually vacuum your pool. It’s best to do this in conjunction with cleaning your filter. The cost of investing in a pool vacuum costs significantly less than relying on having a professional come out to routinely do the work. It takes a few minutes to properly set up, but vacuuming will keep your pool sparkling clean and prevent staining.
7. When trying to adjust your pool’s pH, use household baking soda to make small adjustments instead of going and buying a solution. Baking soda will do just fine to change the pH a bit, but if your pool’s chemistry is way off — over 50 ppm — go ahead and buy a sodium bicarbonate solution from the pool store.
8. Before hot weather hits and you want to take a swim, give your pool at least a week to get adjusted once it’s been filled again. Sweep your pool area before removing its cover, connect the lines and hoses, fill the pool, and then shock the water. Get yourself a five gallon bucket, stirring stick, rubber gloves, pool shock solution, and goggles or protective eye wear just to be on the safe side. Since the process takes many hours, it’s best to do this overnight as opposed to in the day time. Shock has tons of chlorine and can beach your clothes, so wear something you don’t mind ruining while you do this. Fill the bucket with water, dissolve a pound of pool shock into the water, then stir it slowly with your stick. Run the pool, pour in the solution slowly to prevent splashing, and let the pool run for at least eight hours. In the morning, your pool will be good to go.
9. Over the summer water will be lost from your pool due to evaporation, splashing, and normal swimming. If the water level drops below your skimmer, the pool’s pump could get damaged. To prevent this, use your garden hose to bring the water in your pool back to the right level.
10. Is your pool’s surface a bit slick or oily? Skimmers won’t get off all of the oils on your pool’s surface, but tennis balls are an effective solution. Toss two or three into your pool at night, let them roll around the surface and absorb the oils, and in the morning the oiliness will be gone.