Let’s very quickly return to middle school here—and don’t worry, I’m not going to make you relive the stressors of trying out for a sports team or growing out of all your coolest clothes. Instead, let’s return to that once science class where you learned how it rained. You probably remember a chart with arrows pointed to the earth and arrows pointed to the sky, and learned how the cycle works. But do you remember that water can’t bond to itself to form rain droplets? In order for rain to exist, it must contain tiny pieces of dirt. And if you don’t have time to cover it and set up your heavy duty cover pump before the storm hits, all that dirty water is going straight into your pool.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg (or floating chlorine dispenser, though I’m not a fan): depending on the storm, you might have actual dirt (you know, from the ground) and debris like leaves and twigs blown in—and you better believe all that mess will alter your pool’s chemistry, and yes, lessen its safety, if it’s not sorted quick. But don’t worry too much—I’ll show you how to clean your pool after a storm: including assessing the damage, removing debris, cleaning its walls and floor, draining the water if you need to, and finally, checking up on those chemicals.
Why Not Just Let Your Sanitizer Do Its Job?
Whoa, there. If you have debris in your pool—even if that’s just the dirt in rainwater—your sanitizer is going to have a seriously tough time. Here’s how it works: anytime you have contaminants in your pool, your sanitizer targets them. But chlorine can only do so much, and can get exhausted—especially when it’s dealing with significant amounts of rainwater and solid debris like leaves that it can’t possibly break down, though it will probably (and literally!) die trying.
If your sanitizer is done-zo after working on debris like rain and twigs, it won’t have any capacity to neutralize the other, microscopic contaminants of your pool, like bacteria that could potentially make you sick. Leave your pool as it is after a storm, and there’s no guarantee that it’s safe to swim in. Got it? Now let’s get your pool back on track.
Step 1: Assess the Damage
Alright, how’s it looking over there? There are a few areas to assess—and if you’re lucky, you won’t need to do every step I’m about to lay out. How much did it rain, and how strong was the wind?
If you only got a calm little sprinkling, you see no debris, and your pool is still at the proper water level, you can skip to Step 5 and check your chemicals.
If your pool is higher than the halfway point of your skimmer, and you’ve got some plant invaders in your pool water, keep on reading. Don’t worry—it happens to all of us.
Don’t forget that your pool pump is the heart of your circulation system—the right one will not only keep your pool clean, but it’ll also help you save big. The Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is ultra-powerful, comes with a lifetime warranty, eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”
Step 2: Get That Debris Out of There
Next, remove the debris from your pool—the visible kind, that is. Go ahead and use that nifty net hooked up to a telescopic pole to lift leaves, twigs, and other junk out of your pool water. This is a great time to check your skimmer, which looks like a little bucket, is built into the side of the pool and, with the help of the basket it lines, keeps out debris that could otherwise enter and wreak havoc on your circulation system. Check here to see if the debris has built up enough to prevent your pump from easily pulling in water from your pool. It couldn’t be more straightforward to clean out.
If your pump hasn’t run since the storm, that’s probably enough unclogging for now. If it has, you’d better check your pump basket for debris, as well. Just make sure you turn the pump off first—I really mean that one—and open the pump basket lid. This one looks similar to the skimmer basket, so it’s super easy to identify. Just wash it off with a hose, replace, and move on to the next step.
And if you haven’t checked for clogs in a while, you might want to really study up on how to unclog debris from your pool.
Step 3: Get Your Pump and Filter Running
Now that the clogs are all flushed out of your system, it’s time to start your system back up again. This will get water (and its contaminants) circulating through your filter pump, which will support you in this next step, when you clean your pool walls and floor. Get ready for a little elbow grease.
Step 4: Grab the Brush, Grab the Vacuum
First, get scrubbing any accumulated gunk from your pool floors and walls. I recommend using a brush like the patented 360-Degree Bristles Pool Brush, which was developed by pool maintenance experts to help get tight corners without any of the aches or pains associated with a good clean.
Now that you’ve scrubbed any sediment that was clinging to your pool, so now it’s time to suck it up and get it out of there. If you have a durable and reliable model like the Blue Torrent MyBot In Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner, you’ll never have to look at a manual vacuum again (especially since it comes with a lifetime warranty). If you’ve never had a robotic pool cleaner or it’s not doing the job, you’ll need to use a manual vacuum instead, meaning you’ll need to spend a considerable amount of time (and strength, oof) running it across the bottom of your pool. Just make sure to turn your filter to waste so all that dirty water is getting flushed out of your pool.
If you are using a manual vacuum, you’ve reached the proper water level for your pool, and there’s still debris that needs to be cleaned out, keep it balanced by throwing a garden hose into your pool while you continue to vacuum. Of course, that garden hose is untreated water, so you’ll want to really stay on top of your chemical game in Step 6.
If you’re not sure how to install a robotic cleaner, it’s easy: just plug it into an outlet and lower it into your pool. It’s definitely a more complicated process to install a manual vacuum, so get ready for that.
Step 5: Still Too Much Water? Drain It Away
Luckily, it’s not always necessary to drain water from your pool—and it certainly doesn’t mean draining all the water from your pool, so no worries there. Basically, the only purpose for ejecting some water is if it has seriously rained into your pool and increased your water levels. If you can’t see your skimmer, or if your water line is anywhere above halfway up your skimmer, this is a task for you.
There’s two ways to drain water from your pool. If you were manually vacuuming your pool, you can keep doing that. If you have a robotic cleaner, turn your filter to “waste,” connect a backwash hose to the filter’s waste port, and turn your pump on. This will eject the water. Stick around until your pool is at the right waterline level, and then turn off your pump and restore. And here’s a bonus: this is also a great skill to have when your filter needs to be backwashed.
We’re almost there, but this next step is a pretty big deal.
For this next step, I recommend tried and true shock like the Super Premium Sanitizing and Fast-Acting Pool Shock. Not only does it work fast in your water, but its conveniently packaged in one-pound bags, so you never have to worry about measuring yours out again.
Step 6: Let’s Get Chemical!
The hard work is behind you, but don’t let the ease of this step keep you from being as thorough as possible. If it rained on your pool, there’s a major chance that your chemical balance is off. Using water test strips, check up on your water and make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.
Keep in mind that your pH and alkalinity is especially at risk. Also worth a double take is your cyanuric acid, which stabilizes your chlorine and keeps it working properly.
I probably don’t need to tell you why chlorine is important, but I can remind you to check its levels. There, just did!
And here’s a bonus option that I will never, ever tell you to skip, even if it’s not mandatory. This is the perfect time to shock your pool water to perfection. Just make sure you do this at dusk or at night, so that the sun doesn’t stop it from working.
Now Droplets Will Only Come from Cannonballs—For Now
The clouds have cleared and your pool is back on track. There won’t be clear skies forever—that’s for sure—but now that you know the outs and ins of restoring your pool, you’ll be more prepared for whatever weather comes your way (especially if you get the best cover pump for you). And for now, the sun couldn’t be more welcome. Enjoy.