DIY Tips

Pool ready

26 September 2016

Swimart professional Andrew Morton from Swimart Charmhaven has five steps to get your pool ready for summer

5 step DIY pool equipment check to get your pool ready for summer

Even though it hasn’t been a particularly cold winter in many parts of the country, it’s great to see the sun rise early in the morning and the days get slightly warmer. With summer only three months away, now is the time to get re-acquainted with your pool equipment.

1. Clear leaves and debris

Start by removing your pool cover if you’ve been using one, scooping up leaves from the pool floor, clearing out all of the baskets, and giving the pool floor and walls a good brush and vacuum. Cleaning filter media is also recommended, which we have outlined in a separate story here.

2. Balance water chemicals

If left untreated during the colder months, pool water can cause bacteria, viruses, algae and other organisms to develop in the water.

“It doesn’t matter how good your filtration is, if your water balance isn’t correct as the water temperature increases, your pool is likely to go as green as it did in Rio,” says Andrew Morton, co-owner of 2016 Australasian Franchisee of the Year (for the second year in a row) Swimart Charmhaven, referring the infamous Olympic fiasco we covered in last month’s newsletter.

“Now that spring is upon us, if you have any algae spores in the water, as soon as the temperature increases, that will be a trigger for those to bloom.”

Here are three key factors required to balance swimming pool water:

  • The pH level, which typically fluctuates between 7.2 to 7.4, dictates how much chlorine turns into hypochlorous acid in the water
  • Total alkalinity from 80 to 120. Alkalinity is a pH buffer—pH levels will be consistent if the alkalinity level is correct. Use sodium bicarbonate to increase alkalinity and muriatic acid to decrease it
  • Calcium hardness from 150 ppm to 250 ppm (parts per million). This is directly dependent on the hardness of the water. The softer the water, the more calcium it will absorb from its environment

Proper pool chemistry not only creates a safe environment to swim in but also reduces the cost involved in using excess chemicals to bring the water back to balance.

“Some people still switch off pool equipment during winter thinking that it will save them a few dollars, but what they’re often left with is a major algae infestation that is not only in the water but also growing in the concrete itself. Aboveground and fibreglass pools are a bit different, but still it takes a lot of time and a lot of chemicals to get it back to a healthy state,” says Andrew.

“You’re only really saving $30 to $50 maximum in power when you turn the pool pump off in the winter quarter, whereas it costs between $100 to $200 in chemicals just to bring the water quality back without treating the surface of your pool,” he says. “And that’s not counting the cost of replacing bearings or your filter, or the damage it has done to the filter.”

If you’re unclear about chemical balance or sanitiser levels, take a small water sample to your local Swimart store.

3. Use your eyes and ears to check for faults

In case it has been a few weeks, or even months, since you last checked your pool’s plumbing equipment, now is a good time to look and listen out for possible faults.

“First make sure the area is free of debris, and any organic material that may have accumulated over the winter months is cleared away,” Andrew says. “Try to keep the concrete pad the pool pump and filter are sitting on as clean as possible so you can immediately see a leak. If you’ve got two inches of green waste around your pump and filter, then that makes it harder to see any leaks.

“Also, is the pump making any abnormal noises that would indicate faulty bearings or seals?”

Now is also a good time to put a degreaser through your filter, especially if you’ve got young children who would have worn a lot of sunscreen while swimming last summer.

“You can do this at any time during the year but it is best-practice to do it now so that you have a clean filter for the whole season in front of you,” Andrew explains.

4. Increase filtration times

Warmer weather means running the pump for longer so the entire volume of water in the pool water can be circulated, or “turned over” at least once per day.

The proper pool pump run time will vary according to the size of your pool, and if it’s heated, but a general rule of thumb is between 8-10 hours.

5. Top up water levels

If water levels have dropped over winter, which can be caused by evaporation and a lack of rain, top it up. Make sure it sits half way up the skimmer box. Over-filling or under-filling reduces the efficiency of the skimmer box and that can lead to contamination of the water.


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