The Ultimate Pool Maintenance Routine—In Four Checklists

Owning a pool is sort of like owning a convertible. You bought it to feel the wind in your face during those top-down drives throughout town, and to add a little bit of excitement to the daily routine of driving where you need to go. But soon, you’ll quickly realize that you’ll need monthly car insurance, annual registration, and a routine smog appointment—not to mention heightened maintenance costs. It’s like that old saying: with great power comes great responsibility.

And when it comes to your pool, it’s especially important to be responsible. The maintenance checks you do on a continuous basis will keep both your water and your equipment in the best shape possible, and will prevent costly repairs that more negligent pool owners are bound to rack up. And what’s even better? Routine pool maintenance has never been easier than with these daily, bi-weekly, weekly, and monthly checklists. I’ll explain why it’s important to have a maintenance routine, explain the basic elements of routine pool maintenance, and give you checklists to make sure you stay on track. In the end, I think you’ll find that pool ownership is all well worth it. But read on to find out for yourself.

Why Not Just Feel It Out?

It’s always important to go with the flow, right? Well, yes—especially when something in your pool goes wrong and needs an immediate fix, as most of the issues that occur do. When that happens, you’ll need to forget what you had planned and find a solution as quickly as possible. But those little emergencies will happen a lot more often if you’re willy-nilly about maintaining your pool. You’re more likely to have an overheating pump, for instance, if you’re not consistently checking your water level. A serious clog is more likely to build up if you’re not emptying your skimmer basket consistently. And your filter is more likely to reach a frightening level of pressure if you’re not checking the gauge and backwashing or cleaning accordingly. And it’s more likely that your pool will become a disgusting, green mess if you don’t vacuum regularly. Seriously, the list just goes on and on.

If you’ve got a faultless photographic memory, no need to use the checklist below. (And by the way, you should try out for a few game shows.) For the rest of us, it’s great to keep the below in mind. I would even print out this list and place it next to where you store your chemicals, so not a detail gets overlooked. Since you’re preventing any major issues, you’re actually saving time (and hello, money) by going through this daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly checklist. Good on you.

the ultimate pool maintenance routine in four checklists

First, Know Your Basics

You could just go by the lists below and keep your pool under control, no problem. But it might also help to have a bigger picture of the basic areas of a swimming pool that require consistent care. That way, you’ll be able to see not only what you have to check up on, but why it’s important. The main areas of care for a pool are: the water, the walls (or liner), the pool’s filter system, and its skimmers and jets.

Keeping your water balanced will protect you and other swimmers from potentially harmful contaminants, as well as helps to avoid corrosion and mineral buildup.

Making sure that your pool walls or liner are in good repair and clear of algae and other pollutants, such as mold, will keep your chemical balance from shifting dramatically, and will protect your pool from any kind of major infestations.

Checking up on your pool’s filter system ensures that the chemicals you add to your water are circulated properly, keeps contaminants out of your water, and prevents clogging. Without regular maintenance to your pool’s filter system, your pool would become unswimmable, stat.

Your pool’s skimmers and jets are what push your water through the greater circulation system, and need to be monitored to prevent clogging—which, in turn, would cause a halt to the three other components listed here.

Alright, now you know the basics. And as much as I’d like to procrastinate the actual work we’re about to do here, I can let you in on a little secret: the more often you do it, the more automatic this routine becomes. It’s only going to get easier. So let’s get started, yeah?

Daily Maintenance Checklist

I’m bummed about it, too. Owning a pool means doing routine maintenance every single day. But if you get an automatic timer for your pump, the rest only takes around three minutes. That’s not bad, right?

1.     Skim your pool with a net.

This net is best attached to a telescopic pole, so you have a perfect reach for the leaves, bugs, and other pieces of debris that float on your pool water’s surface. This will prevent debris from sinking to the bottom, causing stains, and leaving more to your vacuum. Skimming is especially important if you have a manual vacuum—those aren’t exactly easy to use, so you’ll want to keep the need for them at a minimum. (And if I were you, I’d invest in a robotic cleaner like the Blue Torrent MyBot In Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner, which is powerful, super easy to install, and comes with an industry leading warranty. As customer David Lain says, “Very pleased. My wife loves it.”) 

2.     Empty the pool’s skimmer baskets.

These sit inside what look like buckets near your pool’s skimmer. Baskets full of debris like leaves and twigs present a strain to your greater circulation system, and could potentially lead to damaging clogging.

3.     Run your pump for the right amount of time per day.

Typically, this magic number is around eight hours, but different conditions might affect the right amount of time for your pump. And unless you like manually turning on and off your pump every single day, hooking up an automatic timer is the perfect way to keep it consistent. Just remember to reset your timer after a power outage, or if you ever need to shut off your circuit breaker to the pool, such as when you’re troubleshooting a noisy pump.

the ultimate pool maintenance routine in four checklists

 Biweekly Maintenance Checklist 

Not quite daily tasks, not quite weekly. These are those in-between steps that will keep your pool clean and safe. As with all pool experts worth their salt, I’ve opted for the more frequent option whenever a task is ambiguous. Better safe than sorry, right? 

1.     Check your water level. 

It doesn’t get easier or more important than this. If you’ve ever run into a serious problem with your circulation system, you know that your water level is the first thing to check. If it’s dipped too low, your pump could potentially suck air into your system, which is bad news, no matter how you dice it. If this is the case for you, you might also need to prime your pump.

2.     Brush the walls, ladders, and corners of your pool.

This prevents microscopic algae spores from taking hold, which are guaranteed to wreak havoc on your chemical balance if allowed to stick around. Plus, consistent brushing allows your filter to catch even more fine debris that otherwise would attach to your pool’s surfaces. Since you’re brushing your pool on a biweekly basis, save yourself the consistent strain and use the patented BLACK+DECKER 360-Degree Bristles Pool Brush, which was developed by longtime pool experts to eliminate the back pains associated with one-sided brushes. This will help you get those tough-to-reach corners without hurting yourself in the process.

3.     Run your automatic cleaner (or manually vacuum your pool). 

Vacuuming your pool, whether that be with elbow grease or an automatic cleaner, will suck up debris and prevent a strain on your circulation system, which could potentially lead to expensive repairs. Plus, an automatic cleaner will help with circulation. Make sure you use one that is extra powerful, mobile, and has an easy installation, like the Blue Torrent Stinger Automatic Pool Cleaner—which also has an industry leading warranty. 

4.     Empty your pump’s filter basket.  

Although your pool filter is meant to do the most heavy lifting to catch the debris from your circulating water, your pump also has a filter basket to catch larger pieces. With your pump off, open up the lid and clean the basket out. This is also a great time to look for clogs, and of course will prevent clogs from happening in the future. 

5.     Hose and sweep off your pool deck. 

Other than just keeping it looking nice and making sure no debris sticks to or stains its surface, a hose and sweep will also prevent any debris from your deck from entering your pool. Junk is a lot harder to remove once it enters your pool. That’s for sure.

Weekly Maintenance Checklist

No need to do these more frequently than on a weekly basis, but you’d better set aside a consistent day (or morning, depending on how hot your area is) so that you can keep track. 

1.     Add sanitizer to your pool.

If you know the basics of pool maintenance, you know that adding sanitizer is one of the most essential parts of running a clean, safe pool. Thankfully, you have options. First of all, make sure that you’re using the right sanitizer for you. If you have decided to go with a saltwater pool for its obvious benefits make sure you have a reliable saltwater generator like the Salt Ways Eco Friendly Salt Chlorine Generator, which comes with an industry leading warranty and ensures your sanitizer is so stable, you’ll hardly notice it.

2.     Balance your pool’s water chemistry. 

When it comes to your pool’s water, everything is about balance. If you’re not familiar with this step, you should definitely make sure you’re well versed on what chemicals you need, as well as the correct levels. If algae is a problem for you, don’t forget algaecide.

3.     Check your pool jets.

Water is coming out of them when your circulation system is on, right? This will tell you if there is any clogging in your system. If your jets aren’t working or have gotten significantly weak, it’s time to take action. 

4.     Read your pool filter gauge. 

Your pool filter pressure gauge is the perfect check engine light for your filter. If it’s around 10 pounds per square inch (psi) higher than your normal operating pressure, it’s time for a backwash if you have a sand or D.E. filter, or a clean if you have a cartridge filter. Don’t backwash or clean your filter earlier, since debris in your filter often helps to catch more debris, and cartridge filters can wear down if cleaned too often. And if you’re into limited maintenance in the future, make sure you have the right filter for you.           

5.     Shock your pool.

You’re not surprised to be reading this step, right? Although often overlooked, shocking your pool is absolutely essential to keep your sanitizer working and your pool safe. Think of it as a quick reset for your water, since it clears out chloramines, the disgusting byproducts of the bacteria and contaminants your sanitizer has already neutralized. And if you want to keep it as simple as possible, you’d better use shock that is both reliable and packaged in one-pound bags, like the Super Premium Sanitizing and Fast-Acting Pool Shock. This way, you won’t have to deal with measuring out this chemical compound.

Just make sure to shock your outdoor pool at dusk or night, since rays from the sun will stop all the good work it’s trying to do. Plus, you’ll want to run your circulation system for about eight hours after adding the shock in. 

the ultimate pool maintenance routine in four checklists

Monthly Maintenance Checklist

Congratulations, you’ve made it through a month of your new schedule. Your monthly routine’s going to be easy—and is mostly to prevent longer term issues. Expect to spend no more than half an hour on this one.

1.     Inspect for cracks, stains, or any other issues with your pool’s surfaces.

Cracks in your in-ground pools interiors could lead to some serious leaking later. Take a moment to look down into your pool and make sure that the floor is as smooth as ever. If you have an above ground pool, check its vinyl liner for any damage. Plus, you’ll need to check around the pool’s perimeter for any sign of leaking. Just know that for any serious maintenance, you might need to drain your pool. Sorry, but someone’s got to warn you.

2.     Check your plumbing O-ring seals and fittings.

Walk alongside your above-ground plumbing and check that they’re as sealed as ever. If you notice a crack in your pipes, you’ll want to get a replacement as soon as possible—with the high pressure of your pool’s water moving through your plumbing, any cracks might grow or burst in no time. Also check the rubber seals to make sure that they’re not warped, cracked, or missing pieces. Thankfully, these are easy (and inexpensive) to replace.

3.     Make sure your pump is in good shape.  

It all goes back to the heart of your circulation system. With the pump turned off, open up the housing lid and check that your O-rings, the rubber seals along the plumbing intake, are in good condition without any warping, cracking, or missing pieces. Go ahead and close that lid and turn your pump on. Is your pump noisy or is your pump too hot to touch? If so, it’s time to get troubleshooting. If not, you’re in the clear for another month.

If you don’t have a variable-speed pump, it’s time to make the leap—it’s the best decision any pool owner could make. A variable-speed pump like the powerful 2HP Energy Star Variable Speed In Ground Blue Torrent Cyclone Pump not only pays itself off in under a year with energy saved, but it’s also eligible for rebates, about to be virtually required by federal law, and comes with an industry leading warranty.

the ultimate pool maintenance routine in four checklists

You’ve Got It Down Pat!

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Now that you’ve completed these checklists, you’ll notice that routine pool maintenance gets easier every single time. And my guess? The more you care for your pool, the more you appreciate it. So take some time to reap the rewards of your efforts: a clean, safe, and well-maintained pool. Enjoy.

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