A healthy pool must posses 3 main elements: circulation, filtration, and chemical balance. 

 

​​​Circulation  

Perhaps  the most vital piece of a well maintained pool. Water must circulate properly in order for proper filtration and distribution of chemicals to occur. Without circulation, neither of the other elements are possible.

  • Circulation begins with the pump. Your pump must function properly in order to pull water from the pool drains (usually a bottom drain and at least one skimmer), into the filter, and return it back into the pool.​

  • It is recomended, especially in pools with no bottom drain, to aim the return jets at a 45 degree angle toward the bottom of the pool. This will help ensure that all of the pool water is circulating and not the same water over and over. Poorly circulating water can cause "dead spots" in the pool (spots where there is little flow). Algae may be a sign of a dead spot.

  • Common areas to have dead spots are:

    • ladders and behind them​

    • steps

    • creases

    • under skimmers​​

      • Often, dead spots are unavoidable. It is necessary to brush these areas frequently.​

  • Some things that can cause poor circulation include:

    • a dirty filter​

    • a skimmer basket full of debris

    • an object or debris blocking the bottom drain

    • a clogged impeller 

    • a full pump basket

    • a cracked pump housing

    • bad motor

    • a leak in the filter or plumbing

  • Most experts say to run your pump at least 8-10 hours per day. We recommend at least 12 hours per day to ensure the maximum amount of your pool water has travelled through the pump and filter. In the warmer months, run it during the day. In the cold months, run it at night to prevent freezing. 

Filtration 

An essential element of any pool. Without proper filtration, it is not possible to have a clean and clear pool. There are 3 main types of filter used in pools:

  • Sand​

  • DE (diatomaceous earth)

  • Cartridge

  • Sand is the most commonly used because of its convenience, however DE and cartridge are both better filter elements than sand.​ DE is widely considered the most effective filter, but is the most complicated to use

  • Cleaning your filter:​

    • Sand - easiest to clean. Simply set the multi-port valve to backwash for about 2 minutes (or until the water running through the sight glass is clear) then rinse for 20 seconds. This only needs to be done every week or two unless problems exist.​ Sand needs to be replaced aproximately every 5 years.

    • Cartridge - next easiest. To clean a cartridge filter you simply remove the cartridge from the filter housing and rinse it with water. It is necessary periodically to use a cleaning agent designed for filters to remove oils and grease. When the element becomes damaged or worn, they are relatively inexpensive to replace.

    • DE - most difficult. DE filters are great for keeping your water clear, however there is more work involved in cleaning them. When backwashed, the Diatomaceous Earth must be replaced, leaving you with dirty DE to dispose of each recharge. Also, it is recommended at least once per year to disassemble the filter and thoroughly clean the grids that hold the DE in place.

Chemical Balance 

The third important factor in pool maintenance is chemistry and keeping a proper chemical balance. The main things a pool professional will test for in a routine sanitizer, pH, and alkalinity. If your pool company uses test strips, many of them also test for calcium hardness and cyanuric acid. A more detailed test can be done with advanced equipment like the Mobile Test Lab by Moore Outdoors. These tests will include measurements for metals, total dissolved solids, and more. It is a good idea to get a thorough test done at least once per season. 

  • Sanitizers - kills bacteria and other harmful organisms ​

    • Chlorine - by far the most commonly used sanitizer. Salt systems are essentialy chlorine systems with a different delivery method. For the purposes of sanitation I will not seperate the two. ​

      • Free Chlorine - the active chlorine in your pool that can attack and kill bacteria and other organisms.​

      • Combined Chlorine - has little to no sanitizing ability. Combined chlorine has bonded with nitrogen, ammonia, bacteria, or other wastes. It is responsible for the skin irritation, red eyes, and bad smell often associated with chlorine. By shocking or super-chlorinating the pool, you convert the combined chlorine back into free chlorine.

      • Total Chlorine - free chlorine + combined chlorine

    • Bromine - is popular among hot tub and heated indoor pool owners. Bromine will continue to work at a higher pH, while chlorine is much less effective when the pH is over 7.6. This is important because one should never allow the pH of a heated pool or hot tub to get very low. A low pH will corrode the heating element of the heater. Bromine is very similar chemically to chlorine and is typically schocked with chlorine.

    • Biguanide - is an alternative for consumers that want no chlorine at all. There are several name brands of biguanide saniters on the market. They tend to be a more expensive option, but do have some positive attributes. They will typically extend the life of a liner and tend to be more gentle on the skin. There is no chlorine odor and no tablets are granular shock to store. They are shocked monthly with hydrogen peroxide and the sanitizer itself is also liquid. One drawback is that they tend to produce a gummy residue in the plumbing, filter, pump, and crevices. This occurs because often the water source is treated with chlorine and biguanides do not tolerate ANY chlorine or bromine. 

    • Ozone - typically produced by UV light or CD (corona discharge), ozone is a very effective sanitizer. However, it is not stable so a suplement of low levels of chlorine or bromine are recomended. You can shock ozone with chlorine or non-chlorine shock. Shocking is not needed as often.

    • Ionizer - uses electricity to produce charged particles of copper and/or silver in the water. Copper is considered effective against algae, while silver is effective against bacteria. Ionized pools do need to be shocked and also need a low level of chlorine or bromine.

    • Mineral purifiers - (Nature2 and Frog System) metallic cartridge that erodes with passage of water. Greatly reduces, but does not replace the need for chlorine.

  • pH - arguably the most important factor in pool chemistry. pH is the measure of how acidic or basic (alkaline) your water is. Generally, the proper pH range for a swimming pool is between 7.2 and 7.8. 

    • Why pH is important:​

      • Above a pH of 7.8, chlorine becomes largely ineffective. If you are using a salt system, strictly chlorine, or just a low level of chlorine as a supplement to ozone or minerals, your pH should remain in the 7.2 - 7.8 range. As mentioned previously, it is unsafe to swim in improperly sanitized water due to bacteria. Your sanitizer can be in the correct range, but not do any good if your pH is too high. ​

      • An extremely low or extremely high pH can be uncomfortable to swim in and irritate the eyes and skin. The ideal pH for comfort is 7.6.

      • An improperly balanced ph can leade to corrosion (pH too low) or scale (too high). 

  • Alkalinity - in swimming pools is the abilty of water to maintain a steady pH.  When chemicals are added that would cause a fluctuation in pH, alkalinity acts as a buffer to neutralize the affecting agent and keep pH in the desired range. When alkalinity is too low, pH can fluctuate rapidly. When it is too high, it can cause cloudy water and form scale. The proper range for Total Alkalinty is between 80 - 120 ppm.

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Other factors in chemical balance are Calcium Hardness, Stabilizer (cyanuric acid), and TDS (total dissolved solids). Routine maintenance should also consist of a preventative dose of algaecide