There's a big source of water consumption in your backyard—it's called a swimming pool. While the World Water Council is not asking you to replace that big pit with a vegetable garden—not yet, anyway— there are several ways you can practice water conservation with your pool or spa. Get smart—water smart—by learning more about your pool or spa and the preventative steps you can take and repairs you can make to help conserve water. Do your part to reduce and control water losses from pools... and spas. Here's how:
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Use a Pool Cover
Without a swimming pool cover, more than half the water in your pool can possibly evaporate in one year. Using a cover regularly reduces evaporation by 90 to 95%. Without a cover, an 18 x 36 foot pool loses about 1 inch of water per week in the summer. Annually, this can add up to a water loss of 7,000 gallons. What a waste. Other benefits of a pool cover:
- A pool cover can reduce the need to use more chemicals.
- Pool covers help to reduce algae growth.
- Pool covers help conserve heat, which can save money on heating costs.
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Sounds good. So how do you check for leaks?
- Look for damp spots downstream of the pool.
- Water-saturated soil near the pool, pumps or pool plumbing equipment.
- Check for leaking pipes, valves and joiners.
- Loose tiles or cracks could be an indicator of a leak.
- Check for cracks or gaps in the bond beam.
- If your inspection indicates a possible leak, follow these leak detection rules.
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Lower the Pool's Water LevelBesides conserving water, keeping a lower water level in the pool helps reduce water loss from extreme splashing and boisterous water play. It's a good idea to keep the water level 1 inch above the bottom of the pool tile. Try to discourage swimmers from splashing by explaining to them that the water needs to stay in the pool.
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If Your Pool is Heated, Lower the TemperatureIf you have a pool heater, try reducing the temperature during the summer. Doing so reduces the occurrence of water loss to evaporation, and is especially important when the pool isn't being used. Better yet, use a pool cover.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Backwash Pool Filters Only When Necessary
Obviously, backwashing filters uses extra water. Keep the pool and filters clean to reduce the frequency of backwashing. Only backwash long enough for the water in the sight glass to run clean. Frequent backwashing can reduce the effectiveness of the filters.
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Reuse Backwash or Dechlorinated Waste Pool Water on Lawns & Shrubs
Empty the filter backwash onto lawns and shrubs or collect it to reuse. Make sure your landscaping has absorbed the backwash before it leaves your property. Don't allow runoff to enter adjacent properties unless you have some sort of agreement with your neighbor. Check with your city government—in some regions it is illegal to empty pool backwash water into the street or storm drains.
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Add Sanitizer in the EveningThe sun quickens the dissipation of chlorine, making the evening the best time to add sanitizer to your pool. If the sanitizer is added automatically while the pump is on, run the pump at night for best efficiency.
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Strategic Poolside Landscaping
Plant pool-area shrubs and use fences or privacy screening as barriers or to help reduce water loss from wind evaporation. Decreasing the occurrence and amount of wind going across the pool will cut down on evaporation.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Monitor Your Water and Utility BillsAny changes might signal a possible leak or other problem that will need further investigation.
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Drain Your Pool or Spa Only When Absolutely Necessary
Some pool owners like to start off new each season with a thoroughly scrubbed-out pool and fresh water. If a pool has been properly maintained, it may not have to be drained completely or as frequently as you might assume. Many experts believe a pool should only be drained every 3 to 7 years. Spas, however, should be drained every three months, depending on how often it's used.
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Shut Off Fountains and WaterfallsWhen aeration occurs, a significant amount of water can be lost to evaporation. Sure, they look pretty and you love to hear the sound of running water. Strike a compromise. Only run pool fountains and waterfalls when you're entertaining.
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Check the Pool Pump
Run the pump only as long as needed. Start by running the pump for eight hours per day. If the pool stays clear, run the pump less often. If it starts to get cloudy, run it a bit more each day until it clears. You may find that different run times are required at different times of the year.
Use a timer that's rated for the size of your pool pump. You can also save on operating costs by matching the size of the pump to the needs of your pool. When replacing the pump or the pump motor, get only the horsepower you need and look for a two-speed or variable-speed pump motor.