Home > Tools > Pool Tips

Pool Tips

Take advantage of the experience of seasoned pool professionals and long time pool owners.

The following tips will help make operating, maintaining and enjoying your pool easier, and less confusing.

CHEMICAL TIPS

CHLORINE

  • To maintain the proper level of residual chlorine when bather load is heavy, shock your pool once a week with a 3 to 5 times higher than normal dose of chlorine. Do not enter the pool until the chemical level is normalized.
  • Chlorine is broken down by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Using cyanuric acid to stabilize the chlorine in your pool at the beginning of the swim season will help you maximize your chlorine’s efficiency all summer long.
  • Filters remove suspended particles from pool water, but don’t control bacteria or algae. Maintain a residual chlorine level of 1.0-3.0 ppm (parts per million) to kill bacteria and/or algae present in the water.

PH LEVEL

  • The ideal pH for pool water is 7.5. A pH range of 7.4-7.6 is considered acceptable.
  • Maintaining a total alkalinity (T.A.) range from 80-120 ppm (parts per million) will help minimize changes in pH, which can result in scaling and corrosion. Frequent testing can help prevent these problems before they get out of hand.

QUALITY

  • To ensure accurate readings, replace test kit reagents annually.
  • To ensure the highest water quality, test your pool’s pH and free chlorine levels daily, adding chemicals as needed.
  • Proper chemical usage is important for maintaining a healthy pool. Be sure to follow the chemical manufacturer’s instructions closely regarding proper dosage for your size pool.
  • Add an algaecide and chlorine to your pool before covering it for the winter. It will ensure that the water is clear and algae-free when you reopen it the following season.

ENERGY

DEBRIS

  • When preparing to open your pool for the season, clean all leaves and other debris off the cover before removing it.
  • Empty your skimmer baskets frequently. You’ll help minimize the amount of leaves that end up on the bottom of your pool.
  • When cleaning the surface of your pool with a leaf net, work your way around the sides first, then clean from the middle of the pool to the sides.
  • Empty your leaf net occasionally when cleaning your pool’s surface. Otherwise, the net’s contents may accidentally end up back in the pool.
  • Keep the trees and shrubs around your pool trimmed back to minimize the amount of leaves and debris that end up in the pool.

WATER CLARITY

  • When opening your pool at the beginning of the season, run your filter around the clock until the water is completely clear.
  • If your pool water appears green or has an unpleasant odor, the problem is probably caused by algae. Test for proper chlorine level, and consult a pool professional if the problem persists.
  • Keep your filter, pump, lint trap and skimmer baskets clean and in proper working condition to help ensure that your pool water stays sparkling clear.
  • Pool inlets should be adjusted so the surface water is moving in a circular direction.
  • Make a habit of checking and emptying skimmer and pump baskets regularly.

ENERGY CONSERVATION

HEATING & HEAT LOSS

  • Reduce heat loss by using a pool cover. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, savings of 50% – 70% are possible.
  • Fencing, hedges, landscaping, and cabanas that shelter your pool from prevailing winds will further reduce heat loss.
  • If your pool heater is more than five years old, chances are a new high efficiency gas heater could quickly pay for itself in utility bill savings.
  • A pool heat pump can save up to 80% in energy usage compared to a gas heater. Check with your pool professional to see if a heat pump is appropriate for your region.
  • If you use your pool only on weekends, reduce your heater or heat pump thermostats settings by eight to ten degrees during the week.
  • When leaving for vacation for more than a week, turn off the pool heater or heat pump, including the pilot light. Please use caution in freezing conditions.
  • According to the National Swimming Pool Institute and the American Red Cross, the most healthful swimming temperature is 78 degrees. Reducing your heater or heat pump thermostat to maintain a 78 degree or lower temperature will also help conserve energy.
  • Install a timer or a control system to automate the hours of operation.
  • When reopening your pool, make sure your heater or heat pump is working properly.

CIRCULATION

  • Replace your pool pump with a more energy-efficient model.
    • New variable speed pumps with permanent magnet motors and digital controls can save as much as 90% in utility costs compared to one- or two-speed pumps with induction motors.
    • If using an energy-efficient one- or two-speed pump, make sure your pump is sized to your pool’s requirements.
  • Reduce run time or speed to reduce energy use.
    • If using a one-speed pump, reduce filtration run time. In general, water needs to be circulated through the filter once every 24 hours.
    • If using a two-speed or variable speed pump, use the lowest speed to appropriately circulate the water. Reducing speed saves more energy than reducing run time.
  • Run your pool’s filtration system during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower, generally between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Install a timer or a control system to automate the hours of operation.
  • Keep intake grates clear of debris. Clogged drains require the pump to work harder.
  • To obtain maximum filtration and energy efficiency, backwash or clean your filter regularly, as required.

EQUIPMENT

CLEANERS

  • An automatic pool cleaner will dramatically reduce the time spent on weekly maintenance.
  • If you fill your pool with well water, you’ll need to add a metal remover.

FILTERS

  • When cleaning cartridge filters, soak them in a cleaning solution for 24 hours, then hose them off before reinstalling.
  • D.E. filters should be disassembled and cleaned at least once per season.
  • If your sand filter is 3-5 years old, ask your pool professional if it’s time to replace the sand.
  • If your filter pressure gauge indicates that pressure has dropped below the normal reading for a clean filter, check to see if you have a clogged pump or skimmer basket.
  • Clean your sand or D.E. filters when you close your pool for the season.
  • To obtain maximum filtration and energy efficiency, backwash or clean your filter regularly, as required.

GASKETS, O-RINGS & RUBBER FITTINGS

  • If your pool has a deck-mounted junction box, check the condition of the gaskets regularly–and replace as needed–to make sure the box cannot be penetrated by water.
  • When closing your pool for the season, coat all accessible o-rings, rubber fittings, and gaskets with a silicone O-ring lube to keep them from drying out.

HEATERS

  • To maintain your heater’s efficiency, follow a regular program of preventive maintenance, including annual inspection and de-liming of the heat exchanger when necessary.

LIGHTING

  • The addition of fiber optic or automated color-changing lighting can dramatically enhance your nighttime pool enjoyment.

PUMPS

  • Turn the pool pump off before operating the multi-port valve.
  • If your pump starts running louder or making unusual noises, shut it off and contact your pool professional.
  • Make a habit of checking and emptying skimmer and pump baskets regularly.

SKIMMERS

  • Check to make sure the skimmer weir is in place and is moving freely.
  • Make a habit of checking and emptying skimmer and pump baskets regularly.

WATER CONSERVATION

CHECK FOR CRACKS AND LEAKS AROUND YOUR POOL, SPA AND EQUIPMENT.

A leaky pool can waste over 100,000 gallons per year! Monitor your pool closely and consult your pool professional if you suspect a leak. Some signs of leaking to look for are:

  • If your pool water level is going down more than 1/4″ per day, there could possibly be a leak.
  • Loose tiles or cracks in the pool deck may be an indication of a leaking pool.
  • Cracks and gaps in the bond beam may be an indication that your pool is leaking.
  • If you notice water-saturated soils in the area around the pool, pool pumps or plumbing, your pool may be leaking.
  • If you see bubbles in the return water when the pool’s pump is running, it’s likely there’s a leak in the suction side of the filtration system.

INSTALL AND USE A POOL COVER.

The average uncovered pool loses one inch of water per week. Covering your pool can save up to 30-40% of water lost to evaporation.

LOWER THE POOL WATER TEMPERATURE WHEN NOT BEING USED.

Reducing the temperature also reduces water loss to evaporation.

PLANT A WINDBREAK.

Wind blowing across the surface of the pool causes additional evaporation. A windbreak can help you conserve water as well as energy costs.

LOWER THE POOL WATER LEVEL TO REDUCE LOSSES FROM SPLASHING.

  • Maintain your pool water level one inch above the bottom of the tile.

KEEP YOUR FILTERS CLEAN TO PREVENT BACKWASHING.

The average backwash uses between 250 to 1,000 gallons of water.

  • Backwash only when necessary.
  • Run filter backwash onto lawns and shrubs or collect for reuse
  • Ensure that water is absorbed before it leaves your property and avoid allowing runoff to enter adjacent properties

WATER LEVEL

TIPS FOR WATER LEVEL

  • Maintain your pool water level halfway up the skimmer box opening.
  • A pool may typically lose a minimal amount of water each day (no more than ? inch) due to evaporation and/or splash out. If your pool is losing more water than that, there could possibly be a leak. Monitor closely and consult your pool professional if you suspect a leak.
  • Loose tiles or cracks in the pool deck may be an indication of a leaking pool.
  • Cracks and gaps in the bond beam may be an indication that your pool is leaking.
  • If you notice water-saturated soils in the area around the pool, pool pumps or plumbing, your pool may be leaking.
  • If you see bubbles in the return water when the pool’s pump is running, it’s likely there’s a leak in the suction side of the filtration system.

WINTERIZING

CLEAN OUT THE POOL.

The first step is to clean out any leaves, insects, dirt and debris. Use your pool vacuum, or just fish them out with a net. Clean out the skimmer and the pump basket, too.

Clean the tile line with tile cleaner. Easier now than next spring, when the scum has had all winter to set.

BALANCE THE WATER CHEMISTRY.

This protects the pool from corrosion or scale buildup. Using a water test kit, adjust the water to the recommended levels of pH, total alkalinity, calcium (hardness) and chlorination.

If you want to add a winterization chemical kit, do it now. These kits put high levels of chlorine and algaecide in the water to prepare it for the winter months ahead. Your pool retailer offers ready-made kits for the purpose; use according to the maker’s directions. In the case of larger pools, you may be directed to supplement the kit with additional quantities of some chemicals, too.

DON'T LET YOUR CHEMICALS DAMAGE YOUR POOL..

Don’t add tablets or a floater that contains chlorine or bromine—they can damage the equipment nearest them. If you already have chlorine or bromine tablets in your feeder, let them run out so that none remain. If you’re adding winterizing chemicals, pour them into a bucket and then into the pool.?Some of these chemicals instruct you to turn on the pool filter while you add the chemicals. Make sure you do, especially if you have a vinyl liner pool—you don’t want stains on your liner from un-dissolved granules or damage to your equipment from concentrations of chemicals in the water.

THE #1 ENEMY: FREEZING.

When water freezes, it expands with enormous force. It’s the force that breaks up highways, splits garden hoses, explodes beverage cans in your freezer, and it’s the force that expands and cracks pool pipes, filters, pumps and skimmer baskets. If you are closing up your pool for the winter, you should always take precautions to protect from freeze damage no matter where you live—even pool owners in the South have learned, to their regret, that freezing temperatures are an ever-present risk.

To start the process, drain the water down below the skimmer mouth. DO NOT EMPTY THE POOL! The expansion of the soil under the pool as the water in the soil freezes can jack the pool right out of the ground; it needs the weight of some water to keep it firmly in place.

BE GOOD TO YOUR PUMP AND HEATER.

Disconnect your pump and filter. Make sure all water is completely drained from the pump. For insurance, turn it upside down once and dump any excess water out. Remove the drain plugs from it (there may be one or two); they’d trap water inside, which is bad. Once you’ve drained the pump, turn it on for just a second or two (no more—the seal is vulnerable to damage) to expel any remaining water from the impeller. Store any small plugs or parts in the pump basket, so they’re easy to find next year.

If you have a heater, drain it and make sure there is no standing water inside.? Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac. Drain the heater completely, remove any drain plugs, and stash those plugs too in the pump basket for next season.

Remove all return jet fittings (the entire fitting!). If you crack a fitting while removing it, don’t panic! You can get a replacement come spring.? Remove all skimmer baskets. Put fittings and any other items that you remove in one of the skimmer baskets or the pump basket to avoid loss (this includes the dive board bolts too).

NO WATER IN THE PIPES = NO FREEZE DAMAGE.

Unscrew and loosen any quick-disconnect fittings or unions at your pump and filter system, then blow out the pipes. A wet-dry shop vacuum or air compressor is ideal for this. Force the air from your pump down the skimmer and through the skimmer (or “suction side”) pipes.

Blow out the return plumbing by hooking up your compressor to the return lines at the filter system, or by screwing it into the pump’s drain plug. Keep at it until you see air bubbles emerge from the return jets, then tightly plug the fitting below the water line. Close up all exposed pipes with plugs.

Also blow out the main drain line (if any). No diving necessary to plug up the drain pipe—when you see bubbles coming out of the drain, plug the pipe on your end or close the gate valve. This will create an “air lock” in the line, ensuring that no more water can enter it from the pool side, which protects the main drain line.

CLEAN THE FILTER.

Remove the filter hoses. Spray the cartridge filter elements and D.E. (diatomaceous earth) grids with Filter Cleaner, then rinse them clean with a garden hose. For D.E. filters, drain the filter tanks and leave the backwash valve open. If you have a sand filter, clean it by backwashing.

Important: Don’t acid wash a D.E. filter at pool closing time. Wait until spring, when you can conveniently run pool water through the system to rinse it out. Simply rinsing off the acid and putting away the filter will give the acid all winter to attack the filter components.

Open the drain at the bottom of the filter to let out any water in the filter outlet; be sure to open the air relief valve on top if you have one. Put the multiport valve in the closed or “winter” position—blow the water out of it if necessary—and remove the pressure gauge. Stow the drain plug with the other removed items you’re stashed in the pump basket.

YOUR FINAL FREEZE INSURANCE: THE FLOTATION DEVICE.

Before you put on the cover, you’ll want to install a flotation device in the center of the pool. This device needn’t be anything fancy—it can be a “pillow” sold at your local pool retailer or a truck innertube. The float balances the rainwater and ice sure to form on your pool’s cover over the winter. Even more important, it eases pressure on the pool walls by allowing winter’s ice to push in on the flotation device, not outward on the walls.

LAST STEP: THE WINTER COVER.

The winter cover is important for both the pool and the people around it. It’s stronger than a summer cover, both to withstand the weight of snow and ice, and to protect people or pets from accidentally falling through the cover into the water.

If your cover has any rips, fix them. If they’re beyond repair, replace the cover. Stretch the cover over the pool, black side down. If any sharp points are protruding from beneath, cushion them with cardboard or rags. Then stretch the cover very tightly across the pool (this can be a 2-3 person job). Run a strong wire through the holes around the perimeter of the cover, and snug it up using a wrench so the cover stays down in winter’s winds and rains.

TIME FOR STORAGE.

Remove rope and floats from pool and put with the rest of the supplies. Store any dive board and ladders in the shed or garage, with your pump and filter. Store your dive bolts or ladder bumpers in the pump basket. If you have a sand filter, just leave it outside.

YOU'RE DONE.

Your pool is ready for winter’s worst. Your investment is protected. And your spring pool opening should be an easy step to another season of swimming enjoyment!