There are many aspects of pool maintenance, some simpler than others. And while making mistakes is a part of learning, there are some mistakes that can put pool owners at risk. Educating yourself on the most common pool maintenance mistakes helps you keep your pool safer, cleaner, and running efficiently with less mess and frustration.
The chemical we call pool shock is basically concentrated chlorine. At high strength, chlorine can bleach anything that enters your pool. Adding shock directly to the pool water if you have a vinyl liner can be a disaster. The shock granules will sink the bottom and bleach out your liner. The bleached area becomes brittle and frail, causing leaks. Pre-dissolve the chemical in a bucket of water before you shock your pool. This will allow the shock to disperse more evenly in the water, protecting your liner, pool walls, and floor.
Dealing with pool algae is hard enough. Add vacuuming to the list, and you might find yourself thinking it’s time to replace your pool with something less high-maintenance. Solving this very common pool care mistake is easy, though a little is more labour-intensive. You’ll need to break out the manual vacuum. Be sure to switch your filter to “waste” or remove the drain plug. Note, you will lose a fair amount of water, but you’re also losing the algae.
If your pool water has a very low pH, it’s very acidic. Low pH can damage your pool equipment, including:
- Pool pump and filter
- Vinyl liner
- Automatic pool cleaner
- Chemical feeder
- Maintenance equipment
- Solar blanket
Balancing acidity and alkalinity keeps your pH stable. Because just about anything can skew water chemistry in no time, make sure you test your pool water regularly. Then adjust your levels with pH increaser, alkalinity increaser, and other essential chemicals until everything’s back in balance.
If you do this, you can cause your filtration system to explode. Combining calcium hypochlorite or dichlor pool shock and chlorine creates a deadly gas. If you have an automatic chlorinator attached to your filter system and you pour the shock into the skimmer, the two chemicals will combine in a very small space for a deadly result. Keep your pool shock and your skimmer far, far away from one another. Always add your shock following the manufacturer’s directions, while wearing appropriate safety gear.
Daytime is great for enjoying your pool, but not so much when shocking it. Shock is unstabilised chlorine. The sun, which is not kind to pool shock at all, will burn off 1 ppm each hour, reducing the efficiency of your chemicals, and wasting your money. Shock at night to give your pool shock the time it needs to do its job.
As with pH, balancing your water’s calcium hardness is essential to a clear, clean, and safe swimming pool. And while you don’t want too much because it’ll cloud the water, a little hardness is actually a good thing. It helps extend the lifespan of things like vinyl liners, concrete, plaster, fibreglass, and filters.
You can add calcium hardness increaser to keep your calcium hardness at the recommended level of 175 ppm to 225 ppm (200 ppm to 275 ppm for concrete and plaster pools). Add it when you open your pool to get the level where you want it. Check it often throughout the swim season, since evaporation and splash out can drop the levels too low.
Run your pool filter and pump at least eight hours a day. Depending on the size of your pool, this should be plenty of time for all of the water to pass through the filter, keeping your water clearer.
Your weekly water testing is one of the most important since it can tip you off to small issues in your pool’s water chemistry before they blossom into major disasters. So, we recommend testing your pool water at least once a week, either with test strips or a liquid test kit. Then take a sample of your pool water to your local pool supply store to get a detailed analysis at least once a month.
The primary levels you should be testing for are:
- pH and alkalinity
- Calcium hardness
- Cyanuric acid (chlorine stabiliser)
- Salt and total dissolved solids (TDS) levels
- Copper and iron