Basic Pool Care

Guidelines on running a privately owned swimming pool for those using chlorine sanitisers

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  1. Preliminaries
  2. Basic Pool Care
  3. Recommended Maintenance Program - Swimming Pool Chemicals
  4. Recommended Maintenance Program - Swimming Pool Hardware


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    A man I knew who had run a pool centre for many years used to send his customers away with a note on the back of an envelope telling them what to do to keep their swimming pool water in good condition for the season. He had written down two figures - the daily dose of chlorine required for the size of pool concerned, and what to do if the pH strayed outside the normal parameters.

    These are the most important factors in achieving good water quality. As an absolute minimum, you should aim to:

    2. Make sure free chlorine never falls below 1.0ppm. This is to kill harmful germs and algae.

    4. Superchlorinate the pool once a fortnight to bring the free chlorine up to 6-10ppm, using a shock chlorine. This will break down chloramines and organic pollution.

    5. CHECK THE pH
    6. Correct the pH if it falls below 7.2 or rises above 7.6. Correct pH will ensure the chlorine is working effectively.

    Many of the demonstration pools you see at pool centres do no more by way of day to day maintenance than that. Most pool water disorders occur when there is no chlorine in the water, or when the pH has strayed. For best results, however, it is strongly recommended that you should also keep a watch on:

    • Water balance; the most important features of which are:

      • pH - as above

      • Total Alkalinity. Low alkalinity can make it difficult to maintain the pH. High alkalinity can lead to cloudy water or scale on the surfaces.

      • Calcium Hardness Correct calcium hardness will help protect pool surfaces.

      and for pools using stabilised chlorine donors:

    • Cyanuric Acid (stabiliser). You need enough stabiliser to prevent waste of chlorine to sunlight, but not so much that it impairs the effectiveness of the chlorine.

    A detailed program for pool maintenance is suggested in the next section

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    • Free Chlorine

      Test daily (or more often in hot,sunny weather when the pool is in heavy use). The free chlorine reading using the DPD no 1 test tablet should be between 1.0 - 2.5ppm (or up to 4 - 5ppm for pools using stabilised chlorines like dichlor and trichlor).

      Dose rate

      • For dichlor - 125g per 15,000 gallons to raise free chlorine by 1ppm
      • For trichlor - recharge the skimmer or feeder device with tablets and control chlorine levels by adjusting the water flow
      • For calcium hypochlorite - 100g per 15,000 gallons to raise the free chlorine by 1ppm
      • For sodium hypochlorite - 0.4 of a litre per 15,000 gallons to raise the free chlorine by 1 ppm

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    • Cycle time

      In general, the longer the pool water is being filtered, the better it cleans the water. As a minimum, run the circulation pump continuously when bathers are in the pool, and for four hours out of twelve at all other times.

    • Filter

      The purpose of the filter is to trap suspended particles in the sand or other media and stop them getting back into the pool. It is essential that the efficiency of the filter is not impaired. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and backwash it (i.e. reverse the flow and drain the dirt that has accumulated on the top of the media to waste). This should be done at least once a fortnight, but watch the pressure guage and do it more often if necessary. Sand should need renewal every 7 to 10 years.

      Check that flow through the pump strainer is not impeded by rubbish as part of the backwash routine.

    • Skimmers

      Clean the skimmers once a week taking out leaves and anything else that could obstruct the water flow.

    • Vacuuming

      If you are not operating an automatic pool sweep, vacuum the pool once a week to remove solids that are not floating in suspension. Some (aluminium-based) water clarifiers will drop accumulated solids to the bottom of the pool, and vacuuming may be required shortly after treatment - see the instructions on the pack. Exclude air from the vacuum hose before connecting it to the attachment in the skimmer.

    • Brushing

      Brush the sides and bottom of the pool frequently, ensuring that any algae that may be discolouring the tiles, grouting or liner is removed (look for this around the steps, under-water lights and 'dead spots' where water movement is minimal). Brush towards the drain so that debris and dirt is drawn into the hopper and onto the filter.

    • Tide Marks

      Clean dirt from the water line with a chlorine compatible tile and liner cleaner if it appears. Greasy deposits can act as breeding sites for algae.

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    Technical Section: [Technical terms defined] [pH explained] [Balanced water test] [Recommended products]
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