How to Get Your Pool Ready for Summer
When temperatures soar, a dip in the pool may be the cool down you need. Before you grab your towel and sunscreen, though, there are few things you’ll want to check. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, it’s important to understand how to care for it. Here are four important things you should do to your pool before diving in.
1. Vacuum and Clean
Once you’ve gotten the cover off and used your skimmer to remove any debris from the water (or filled the pool with water), you’ll want to use a pool vacuum to clean the walls and bottom of the pool. Direct the nozzles on the pool jets downward, says This Old House, and then connect the vacuum to the hose and prop it so that the vacuum head is over the water. Next, using the free end of the hose and a jet nozzle, fill the hose until water pours out of the vacuum. This Old House says you can submerge the vacuum head at this point — placing your hand over the hose as you connect it to the skimmer.
You’ll want to vacuum the pool slowly, moving in overlapping lines across the pool, says This Old House. Also, if the hose starts floating, there may be a hole in the line or your filter may be full.
If there is any algae on the pool sides, you can brush it off using a nylon brush (a stainless steel brush will work for concrete pools), according to This Old House.
2. Check the Equipment
For those living in in climates with cool or cold winters, most people turn their pool’s filtration equipment off for the season. Come late spring/summer, though, you’ll want to make sure that everything is in working order and repair any minor issues before the season gets into full swing.
Start by locating any O-rings — rubber rings used in a lot of pool systems as a seal throughout your system. Lubricate them with pool gasket lubricant to help protect them, or replace them if they’re ripped or cracked, says Swim University. Then flip your circuit breaker, and turn on your pump. Switch the valve to filter to take a closer look at the pump, and then take a closer look at your filter. Clean or replace it, as necessary.
3. Test Water Balance
When getting your pool clean and clear for the season, you’ll want to take a closer look at the water chemistry. First, check your pool water’s total dissolved solids (TDS), as water with high levels of TDS will look cloudy, cause corrosion, alter the pool’s pH balance and lessen the effectiveness of pool chemicals. (You can purchase a testing kit at a pool supply store or online.) TDS levels should be below 2500 parts per million (ppm), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If the levels are too high, your pool will need to be partially or fully drained and refilled.
Next, you need to test and adjust pH. The CDC says pH should be between 7.2. and 7.8. This Old House recommends using muriatic acid if the pH is above 7.6 or soda ash product if it’s under 7.4. You can purchase muriatic acid and soda ash at a pool supply or home improvement store. Follow the instructions on the packaging for how to mix and add the acid appropriately. Generally, though, you’ll add the muriatic acid to a bucket of water, mix the solution gently and then pour it into the deep end of your pool, according to Swim University.
You should also test the water’s chlorine. An appropriate chlorine level is between 1 and 3 ppm, says the CDC. You’ll need to “shock” the water if the chlorine is below 1 ppm or the alkalinity is less than 90 ppm, according to This Old House. You can do this by dissolving lithium-based chlorine and/or alkalinity increaser in a bucket of water and putting it in the pool water, says This Old House. Wear gloves and safety goggles before handling chlorine, and do not mix any other chemicals in the bucket you use for shocking as this can be dangerous, says Swim University.
If you have a saltwater pool with a chlorine generator, remove and clean the chlorine generator cell every few months. For this, you can use a hose to remove any mineral buildup and scrub off any residue with a cleaning brush, according to HealthLine. You’ll also want to check that your salt levels are in line with the specifications in the manual.
4. Safety Check
Now that your pool water is ready, you’ll want to help keep your family and friends safe. Pool Safely recommends making sure pools drains are protected by safety compliant covers and that the pool be surrounded by a self-closing, self-latching gate. Be sure to check or install these items before you open the pool for the season.
Now that your hard work is complete and your pool is ready for splash season, hop in and enjoy a swim — you deserve it.
Originally published on April 12, 2013.