Basic Pool Care
Guidelines on running a privately owned swimming pool for those using chlorine sanitisers
For an explanation of techical terms, follow the links or see A Layman's Guide to Technical Terms or pH Explained.
- Basic Pool Care
- Recommended Maintenance Program - Swimming Pool Chemicals
- Recommended Maintenance Program - Swimming Pool Hardware
- Buy a good chemical test kit
- Calculate the volume of water in your pool using the formulae
To convert to cubic metres, divide the answer by 220. Jot the figure down and keep it in a safe place. It is the foundation stone for sound pool management.
- For rectangular pools - Length x Width x Ave depth (in feet) x 6.25 = volume in gallons
- For round or oval pools - Length x Width x Ave depth (in feet) x 4.9 = volume in gallons
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:
- MAINTAIN FREE CHLORINE LEVELSMake sure free chlorine never falls below 1.0ppm. This is to kill harmful germs and algae.
- SHOCK DOSE 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.
- CHECK THE pHCorrect 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:
A detailed program for pool maintenance is suggested in the next section
RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE PROGRAM - CHEMICALS
NEVER MIX DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHLORINE TOGETHER BEFORE DOSING, AND DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO MEET IN A CONCENTRATED FORM. IF SUPERCHLORINATING VIA THE SKIMMER, ENSURE THAT ANY CHLORINE TABLETS ARE REMOVED FROM IT FIRST.
Once a fortnight, superchlorinate, preferably with an unstabilised chlorine such as calcium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite to raise the free chlorine to 6-10ppm. Calculate the dose rate from the figures in the preceding section.
RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE PROGRAM - POOL HARDWARE
- 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.
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.
Clean the skimmers once a week taking out leaves and anything else that could obstruct the water flow.
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.
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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