The best thing about summer is watching the kids play in the pool, having a pool party or lounging on your flamingo pool raft. But there’s one thing no one enjoys – summer pool maintenance. With heavy bather loads, frequent use and summer storms, it’s easy to spend more time cleaning, sanitising and backwashing your pool than enjoying it. Luckily, we’ve got some pool maintenance tips that’ll help you stay on top of these tasks and keep your pool safe and swim-ready all summer long.
Swimming pool maintenance is important all year round, but there are four common problems that can affect your pool in summer:
To avoid or correct these issues – and keep your pool looking lush during peak swimming season – here are 8 summer pool maintenance tips:
In summer, it’s not unusual for wind, rain and overhanging trees to blow leaf litter into your pool. The best way to minimise debris is to check your pool daily and remove any leaves with a skimming net. (FYI, it’s easier to skim a few every day than to skim a hundred a week!). Catch them early before they get sucked into the skimmer and slow down pool circulation. Not only can leaves unbalance your water chemistry, it can also stain your pool and damage equipment.
When your pool is used every day, it can deplete your sanitiser and throw off your water balance. Common culprits are organic contamination (bathers and environmental debris), backwashing and splashing. To counteract this, check your water chemistry a few times a week to ensure your pool is safe for swimmers.
Keep a pool test kit on hand, or if you want to save time, take a pool water sample to your local pool shop for a full analysis. Make sure you’ve got enough chemicals on hand – such as chlorine, pH increaser/decreaser, stabiliser, phosphate remover and flocculant – to deal with any fluctuations. For instructions on how to test and balance pool water, see this article.
If you don’t skim your pool regularly, leaves and other environmental debris will get caught in your skimmer basket and pump basket. This can affect water flow, leading to cloudy pool water and algae. Make it a habit to empty your baskets regularly and give them a hose if they’re slimy or caked with dirt. If you notice cracks, replace the damaged baskets to prevent debris from damaging your filtration system.
During summer, your pump runs for 8–10 hours a day, sometimes longer if you’ve had a storm or pool party. This means your filter can get clogged with debris, preventing it from filtering properly. To stay on top of this, check your pool filter pressure gauge regularly. If it’s 10 PSI above the normal reading, it’s time to rinse your pool cartridge filter or backwash your pool media filter. Remember to use a filter cleaner chemical at the end of the season to remove grease and oil buildup.
While skimmers and filters often catch large debris, they may not pick up microparticles. These can drop to the bottom of your pool and lead to pool stains. One way of removing them is to brush the pool surfaces and use a manual pool vacuum to suck up the debris.
For faster and hands-free cleaning, consider getting a robotic cleaner like the Viron QT 1050. It works independently of your filtration system and uses advanced navigation to clean your pool. This ensures your pool is thoroughly cleaned with minimal effort or energy consumption.
In summer, it’s easy to lose pool water due to heat evaporation, frequent backwashing, vacuuming, and splashing. Ideally, your water levels should be halfway up the skimmer recess to ensure adequate filtration. If levels drop, your water remains stagnant and becomes a breeding ground for algae and bacteria. After a heavy bathing session, check your pool water levels and top up with a hose. Also use a blanket when not using the pool, this will help reduce evaporation considerably.
There are times when your pool chemistry is so out of whack – and no amount of chemical balancing will help. This can happen after an ‘accident’, pool party or summer downpour. In that case, you may need to shock your pool. Ideally, you should be doing this every few weeks during peak swimming season.
To shock your pool, start by checking your chlorine and pH levels with a test kit or take a sample to your pool shop. If your pH is off, you’ll need to adjust it first or the shock will be ineffective. Next, based on your pool volume and chlorine readings, add the correct amount of pool shock according to the instructions on the label. Let it circulate for 8–12 hours before testing again. Repeat if desired chlorine levels haven’t been reached. For effective sanitation, shock your pool at night to prevent depletion due to sunlight.
To ensure the water is thoroughly sanitised before a pool party, consider using a non-chlorine shock (MPS/Oxyshock). This will oxidize any nasties in the pool in as little as 15 minutes. Compared to using chlorine, you do not need to wait for sanitiser levels to come back down to optimal levels.
With so many people using the pool, either on the weekend or during a party, you’re bound to get food, spilled drinks, grass clippings or soil around the pool and decking. Keep these areas clean to ensure nothing gets blown into the pool (or introduced by clammy feet). If there’s discolouration or staining, try pressure-washing the area to keep your coping or decking looking its best. Lastly, trim overhanging branches or shrubs and dead-head flowers (agapanthus is notorious for dropping petals) to reduce organic litter.
Your pool surface or equipment may experience damage during summer, either due to extreme weather or damage caused by swimmers. Check pool equipment and surfaces after a storm or party for structural damage or leaks. Look for broken tiles, large cracks, blockages, loose lights or pulled cords. It’s best to catch these early before they cause more damage to the pool. As a preventative measure, cover your pool before rain, supervise swimmers and make sure everyone knows the pool rules (e.g. No toys in the skimmer recess!).
If you’re going away for the summer, there are a few things you can do to avoid nasty surprises when you come back. For a start, skim and clean the pool, empty the skimmer baskets and adjust the water chemistry as needed. Use slow dissolving chlorine tablets in a floater to ensure sanitiser levels are at a good level. Second, make sure the water level is halfway up the skimmer or slightly above (or use a water levelling device to top up the water automatically).
Third, use a timer to run your pump daily. If you live in a leafy area or you’re expecting rain, opt for a pool cover. (Note: For those with salt chlorinators, reduce chlorine output to minimise damage to your cover and pool surface). Last, tell a neighbour or family member to drop by once a week to empty the skimmer basket, check the filter pressure and test the water. However, if you’re going away for longer than a month, consider closing your pool.
Let’s face it, heavy bather loads, extreme heat and wild weather can make summer pool maintenance a hassle. But if you know how to prepare for these events, it can save you time, money and heartache down the track. Here’s a quick summary of how to keep your pool in optimal condition during summer:
Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Enlist the help of a family member (kids love skimming leaves!) or pay a professional to do the work for you. Either way, you’ll have a splash zone that’s clean, safe and crystal clear that your whole family can enjoy. For more information about pool maintenance, dive back into our Pool & Spa Guides.