POOL CARE TIPS
SAVE TIME AND MONEY
A pool is supposed to be fun and relaxing - more time swimming, less time skimming!
These pool care tips from pool export Jamie Bramich will ensure that your pool is easy to maintain all-year round.
Read Jamie's tips now or download the PDF for free.
BY JAMIE BRAMICH
GETTING YOU SET UP
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Before we hand over your pool, we get the water ready for swimming. To do this, we add a calculated amount of salt to the water. Through a process called electrolysis, the salt chlorinator attached to your pool uses dissolved salt to produce chlorine compounds that act as sanitising agents to keep your pool clear and clean. Your pool water may be a little cloudy for 24 hours. This will clear as the salt granules dissolve.
TESTING YOUR POOL WATER
We also chemically balance your pool water and show you how to use the water testing kit we supply. The kit is easy to use and comes with clear instructions. Another option is to get your pool water tested by a pool supply shop. We would be pleased to recommend a store in your area.
WATER TESTING MADE EASY
The good news is that you don't need a science degree to keep your pool balanced and looking fantastic. However, for those pool owners interested in diving deeper into pool chemistry, this page helps to explain four of the most important indicators of pool health: pH, total alkalinity, chlorine and salt.
pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the water is. A reading of 7.0 is neutral, while anything below 7.0 is acidic and anything over 7.0 is alkaline. With pool water, the ideal level is between 7.2 to 7.6. A pH level above 7.6 is not desirable because it reduces the effect of chlorine and can lead to cloudy water, scaling and water marking. At pH levels below 7.2, as well as reducing the effects of chlorine, the water becomes increasingly corrosive to surfaces and surrounds and irritating to swimmers' eyes and skin.
In the weeks following handover, when you test your pool water you will very likely observe that the pH tends to be too high (over 7.6). This is expected because the pool interior (aggregate and/or tile grout) is releasing alkaline substances. You will need to reduce the pH by adding acid to your pool water. The acid demand test will specify how much acid needs to be added.
Please take care when handling acid. For your safety, wear gloves and eye protection and store all chemicals out of reach of children.
What if your pH reading is too low? A pH level below 7.2 is less likely to occur, especially when your pool is new. However, organic factors such as rainwater, leaves, grass, body sweat, saliva, sunscreen and urine can all contribute to a low pH reading. (It's always a good idea to check your pool's chemical balance after a pool party!) To increase pH to the ideal level, add sodium carbonate according to the amount recommended for your pool volume and pH reading.
When adding chemicals to your pool, set the filtration pump's speed to maximum for at least 15 minutes. This ensures strong water circulation for good mixing.
Total alkalinity (TA) is a measure of bi-carbonates, carbonates and hydroxides in your water, with the ideal range being 80-120 parts per million (ppm). At the right level, these compounds help to keep pH stable. Low TA will contribute to corrosion, while high TA will make the water cloudy and reduce the santising effect of chlorine. To reduce TA, add hydrochloric acid to the water; to increase TA, add sodium bicarbonate according to the amount recommended by a pool shop or your test kit.
Avoid big swings in your pool chemistry by adding small amounts of chemicals and re-testing the water after 15 minutes.
The ideal chlorine range is 2500-4000 ppm. If chlorine levels are too low, your pool will be vulnerable to algae and microbes. When too high, chlorine may damage equipment, seals and surfaces and cause irritation to swimmers.
With a salt chlorinated pool, as long as you keep chlorine levels in the ideal range, you will never need to add chemical chlorine to your water.
To control chlorine levels, you will instead adjust the output of your salt chlorination system. Keep in mind that chlorine levels are affected by seasonal conditions and pool use. In the summer, when your pool is being used daily and the sun is at its strongest, you may need to increase the output of the chlorinator to maintain ideal chlorine levels.
Keep in mind that chlorine levels are affected by seasonal conditions and pool use. In summer, you may need to increase the output of the chlorinator to maintain ideal chlorine levels.
With a Hayward PS series salt chlorinator installed, the ideal salt level in your pool is 3750 ppm.
You do not need to test for this as the chlorinator system will alert you with a warning light should salt levels become low. Take a water sample to your local pool supply shop and they will calculate how much salt is required to correct the level.
POOL CARE CHECKLIST
SKIM OFF LEAVES & DEBRIS
Use a long-handled leaf skimmer to gather up leaves, insects and any other debris floating on the surface. Removing debris before it sinks is a good way to avoid staining.
Set your pool cleaning robot to work or submerge your vacuum head and hose before hooking it up to the filter. (Those with automated in-floor cleaning can relax while the pool cleans itself!)
Empty the filter basket in your skimmer box. This will keep it operating at maximum efficiency.
TEST & ADJUST WATER BALANCE
Test your water, add chemicals and adjust chlorinator, as needed.
BACKWASH FILTER (MONTHLY)
Once a month or so, backwash your filter for three minutes (or until the water in the sight glass is clear) to keep it operating at maximum efficiency. Follow the backwash with the rinse setting for about 30 seconds or until the water in the sight glass is clear.
TOP UP WATER LEVEL (AS NEEDED)
Top up your pool whenever the water level falls to about three-quarters down the skimmer box entry. (Does not apply to pools with automatic water leveling.)
LOCAL TIPS & TRICKS
BACKWASH DURING OR AFTER HEAVY RAIN
When you clean your pool filter by backwashing, water is pumped out of the pool into the drain. Given that water is a precious commodity, a good time to backwash is when you have excess water in your pool.
TACKLING BAT DROPPINGS
On the Gold Coast and in Queensland generally, bat droppings (guano) are one of the hardest pool stains to tackle because it's sticky and heavy and will readily sink without dispersing. If the bat guano stain is in a shallow section of the pool (eg. steps), try pouring some acid on the area. Acid is heavier than water and will settle quite directly if the water is still (with the filter turned off.) In deeper areas of the pool, a cluster of chlorine granules and gravel (for weight) tied in a stocking will do the trick. Position the stocking over the stain. It may need to sit for a day or two.