We have a lot to do to maintain our swimming pools. We have water chemistry, removing debris, brushing and vacuuming. It would be nice if we could just throw in some chlorine and be done, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
Traditional Chlorine and Salt Water Pools
Chlorine is an important part of keeping our swimming pools clean. We need to first create a chlorine reserve with either liquid or granular. We need to put enough in to break down contaminants and organic load and still leave us with a chlorine “bank”. This may require a larger amount of chlorine. If so, this is known as “shocking” your pool. It oxidizes all that load and still leaves you with some left over. Chlorine sanitizes the water, keeping you and your family safe. It also helps keep the water clear and algae free. But we cannot maintain a pool by only adding chlorine.
Saltwater pools have a saltwater board and a salt cell. As the water passes through the cell, through a process called electrolysis the salt in the water is converted to a chlorine gas. If you own a salt pool, you still have a chlorine pool. You are just making your own. Saltwater also feels better on your skin and is a more “natural” approach. We may still find ourselves having to “shock” our pools. Remember, shocking oxidizes so this can be done with a non-chlorine shock product. In the Winter when the water temps drop below approximately 58 degrees, our salt systems won’t produce. This forces us to go to liquid or granular chlorine. Just until the water warms up. Whichever method we are using to sanitize the water, our goal is to have a chlorine level of between 2-5 ppm. (Part Per Million).
pH and Alkalinity
You know how man cannot survive with food alone? Well swimming pools cannot stay clean with chlorine alone. Chlorine needs to be efficient. This is accomplished by having a balanced pH and alkalinity. The lower our pH is, the more efficient our chlorine is. Shoot for a 7.5. This is where the water is more comfortable on our skins because our bodies are 7.4-7.5. It also allows your chlorine to be most efficient. pH and alkalinity work on the buddy system. When one goes up or down, the other typically does as well. Once in a while, one will drop out of this buddy system. Just like low or high pH and alkalinity, we adjust accordingly with the proper product. Muriatic acid or dry acid to lower pH and alkalinity and sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate to raise. You will find these marked at your local supply store as “pH up” or “alkalinity up”. Proper pH and alkalinity also help our water not be corrosive or scale-forming. Too low a pH and alkalinity for an extended period of time is the number one killer of pool heaters. Don’t have a heater? We still need to keep these fields in line because we don’t want to ruin our plaster, plumbing or equipment. And let’s keep that chlorine efficient!
Brushing Your Pool
We clean our water by non-chemical means as well. Brushing your pool once a week can help prevent algae spores from taking a foothold. Don’t forget those pesky corners! Some people switch from a regular pool brush to their corner brush for this. There is no need. There are brushes with 360 degree technology that allow you to use the same brush for both the walls and the corners. Check them out here.
Vacuuming the Pool
This needs to be done as needed. Always vacuum the pool before you brush it otherwise the stuff you brush off won’t have time to settle. I recommend brushing one day and vacuuming the next if your schedule allows. We will talk about netting in a minute, but vacuuming picks up all the dirt and debris from the bottom of your swimming pool, helping it look clean. You can manually vacuum, or use an automatic pool cleaner. But chlorine alone won’t do a darn thing for those pesky leaves!
Netting the Pool
We need to net out all the leaves and other debris from the surface of our swimming pools. This is done by putting a net of your choice on your telescopic pole and getting to work. The only other option would be to wait and hope ALL the debris makes it to the bottom of the pool to be vacuumed, but this isn’t really realistic.