Top Pool Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Pool Sparkling Clean

pool testing kit

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

If you are lucky enough to own a swimming pool, your maintenance habits can keep your pool sparkling, always inviting, refreshing, and ready for use every day. Preventative maintenance, just like you would do on your home or car, will go a long way in reducing the life cycle costs of your swimming pool. Routine pool water maintenance for your in-ground or above ground pool will also minimize the need to make emergency runs to the store for chemicals and other additives. The key is just to stay on top of it.

Here are the best tips for keeping your swimming pool water clean and clear.

Check Pool Chemistry

It's easier today to check pool chemistry thanks to readily available test strips and kits that tell you how chemically balanced your pool water is at that time. Check your pool chemistry once or twice a week during the summer and once every week or two in cooler months if you're still using the pool.

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Optimal pH Levels

The pH level of your pool should be kept between 7.2 and 7.8, with 7.4 as the optimal level to create a comfortable and safe experience for swimmers. The lower the pH level on this scale means you'll need to add less chlorine to your pool water.

As the pH rises in your pool, it causes the chlorine to become less active. For example, if your pH level is reading at an 8.0 level, your chlorine is about 10 percent active or effective.

Scum Lines and pH

When the pH is high, the water will begin to leave scummy deposits on the walls of your pool. A pH level of 7.2 will eliminate the formation of scum lines. It's always good practice to wipe down the waterline on a weekly basis to reduce scum build-up.

Avoid the mistake of simply adding more chlorine. Control pH properly and you will need and use much less chlorine. There are numerous chemicals and methods available for pH control. Ask an associate or maintenance expert at your local pool store what they'd recommend to control pH levels.

Empty the Skimmer Basket

The skimmer and skimmer basket is installed on the side of a pool. Its primary job is to skim the surface of the pool before debris and contaminants become saturated, heavy, and float down to the bottom of the water. The more effective your skimmer is, the more stuff it can skim off the surface of the pool water. One of the best ways to keep your skimmer working at its best is to open up the panel of the skimmer, remove the skimmer basket, and dump out the contents. The basket should be near clear of debris at all times.

Clean the Hair and Lint Pot

There's another area in your pool equipment that is meant to collect debris that has escaped past the skimmer basket. The hair and lint pot right inside your pump needs clearing about every couple of weeks depending on how many people use the pool.

To do this, turn off the pump and release pressure on the system. There are many different styles of pump lids, and there is likely a basket installed just inside the clear glass lid of your pool pump. Make sure this particular basket is not broken or damaged in any way because even if a small stone manages to fall through this basket, it can cause problems with your system.

Check Your Water Level

Is your water level too high or too low? Your water needs to be right at the center level of your pool skimmer or pool tile for optimal results and performance. If the water is too low, it can cause the pump to run dry and burn it up. If the water is too high, the skimmer door will not work properly and will leave debris inside the pool.

Check the Chlorinator

Frequently check your automatic deck chlorinator or inline chlorinator for proper chlorine tablet levels, loading, or possible clogging. Depending on your unit's style and features, you'll have the ability to add a constant residual of needed chlorine for consistent flow. 

Check the Ozone Generator

If you have an ozone generator, you have another level of sanitizer in the pool that needs to be checked. Ozone, which is a type of oxygen, is known to purify pools as it reacts quickly with contaminants in the water. It can also reduce the amount of chlorine your water will need. But make sure the light of your generator is on and working.

Limit Shocking the Pool

Your pool should not need to be shocked on any regular basis to keep the water clear and clean, especially if you have an ozone system. Sometimes you will need to use chlorine-based shock to eliminate the nitrates from bird, animal, or human defecation that turn into food for algae.

If you need to use shock (if you don't have an ozone system), use it at night when no one is in the pool and the sun doesn't have time to degrade the chlorine-based shock's effectiveness. Or, use non-chlorine shock if you plan on swimming any time soon, or during the day since it's chlorine-free and its effectiveness won't be weakened in the sun.

Check the Salt Pool Chlorine Generator

If you have a salt system, salt pool, or what's termed a no-chlorine pool, then heed these tips. A chlorine generator is a high-maintenance piece of equipment that produces chlorine for you in a salt pool. The saltwater circulates into the generator and salt cell. The salt cell must be kept extra clean of calcium deposits and other crud to work efficiently.

Clean the Pool Filter

Most pools should only need a filter cleaning a couple of times a year depending on the pool usage. There are three signs to be aware of that signal it's time to clean your filter:

  1. The drain at the bottom of your in-ground pool is obstructed.
  2. Your hose cleaner is sluggish.
  3. There are abnormal odors in your pool.

Cleaning a Cartridge Pool Filter

If you have a cartridge pool filter, it's easy to maintain. A cartridge provides a maximum flow rate, wastes little valuable water (no backwashing), keeps the water crystal clear, and only needs to be cleaned a couple of times a year and after a heavy storm.

How to Clean the Cartridge

Here are tips on how to clean a cartridge filter:

  1. Use a rubber trash can, wear long, protective rubber gloves that cover well above your wrists, and wear eye protection.
  2. Soak dirty filters in a 10 percent solution of muriatic acid or a solution of TSP (Trisodium phosphate).
  3. It's critical to always add acid to water, not water to acid.
  4. Rinse the cartridge until clean and let it dry.

Monitor the Structure of Your Pool

The water is not the only thing that needs to be monitored in your pool. There are structural items to take note of as you continuously keep an eye on your pool.

Weakened Walls

Are the returns in the sidewall of your pool weak? If so, there could be rust or corrosion that needs to be attended to as soon as possible.

Cracks

If you start seeing any cracks around the perimeter of your pool between your deck and your tile, caulk it with a small bead of clear silicon. Do not allow the water to migrate from inside the pool in and under the deck through cracks at this joint.

Gates

Continually check your gates, locks, alarms, and any protective barriers to keep children safe. Gates should swing out away from the pool, not in towards the pool, and the self-closing and latching mechanism should be fully functional.

Storing Pool Chemicals

Always keep pool chemicals in a cool, dry place stored out of direct sunlight to keep them effective. Do not store acid and chlorine right next to each other.