Swimming Pool Blog
by Mark Garcia March 28, 2015
Today's post is for the pool owner who wants to schedule the pool maintenance tasks, or for those who want to see the big picture or long term forecast for pool upkeep and maintenance.
Pool maintenance schedules - the idea is taken from the automotive industry, to make recommended service intervals for car maintenance tasks.
When we ran pool service trucks all over God's creation, our company made big use of Service Schedules - lists for our service techs and for homeowners. Below is an adaptation of the type of pool care & repair schedules or service intervals we recommended.
DAILY POOL MAINTENANCE
CHECK WATER LEVEL: A glance to the pool is all it takes to determine if water level is too high or too low. If too high, the skimmers won't skim, and if too low the skimmers will start to suck air. To lower water from too much rain, use the 'Waste" setting on a multiport valve, start a siphon hose, or use a small submersible pump.
CHECK PUMP & FILTER: A quick glance to the filter pressure gauge will tell you that water is flowing normally through the filter. Lower than normal pressure indicates that something is wrong before the impeller (full baskets, closed valves, low water level). Higher than normal pressure means that something is wrong after the impeller (dirty filter, closed valves).
System pressure will fluctuate depending on valve positions after the filter. Running the return water through in-floor cleaners, solar heaters or separate spas creates a back pressure that will raise the filter pressure.
Listen to the pump for any strange or unusual noises, and if you have a clear pump lid, take a peek to see how the water is flowing through the pump.
CHECK pH & CHLORINE: OK, you don't have to do it every day, but you should test it at least 2-3x per week. Keeping your pH and chlorine level consistent is the best thing you can do. Avoid peaks and valleys of chlorination and don't allow the pH to drift too high, or too low. Maintain a pH of 7.4-7.6, and a chlorine level of 1-2 ppm.
CHECK FENCE & GATES: Another quick glance to be sure that fence sections are strong and sturdy and that fence gates are latched or locked. Fix fence sections that need repair, and fill in low spots under the fence that could allow a small child or animal through. Remove any items near the fence line that could be used to climb over the fence.
CHECK POOL CLEANER: For pressure cleaners that run a daily 2-3 hour cycle, give it a quick look to see if the bag appears full, and empty as needed. For suction cleaners and robotic pool cleaners, you need not run the cleaner daily, unless your pool circulation is very poor. Run a pool cleaner only as much as needed, to save wear and tear, perhaps 1-3x per week, for as long as it needs to clean the pool, usually 1-3 hours.
CHECK BASKETS: Pump baskets usually have a clear lid to see if the basket is full, or if there are flow problems. Clear skimmer lids would be useful, but are not common. If the pool is clean, the skimmer baskets probably are too. Empty skimmer baskets as needed to keep skimmer suction strong and effective, and be sure the skimmer weir is in place.
WEEKLY POOL MAINTENANCE
CLEAN POOL: Skim the surface, vacuum the pool, and brush the pool walls and floor. If you have a suction or robotic pool cleaner, you can set it up weekly to vacuum the pool floor, but you may still need to do some regular skimming (Leaf Rakes are much more effective than flat skimmer nets). Brushing the pool walls and floors is a great way to improve circulation and prevent algae formation.
CHECK TOTAL ALKALINITY: A weekly check of your total alkalinity levels is a good way to keep your pH level consistent. If your TA is too high, it makes pH adjustment difficult, and if TA is too low, pH is hard to control. Add an acid to lower TA and add sodium bicarb to increase TA to a range of 80-120 ppm.
CLEAN POOL DECK AREAS: Running a blower around the pool helps to keep the pool cleaner. If you don't like leaf blowers, a garden hose or buckets of pool water can be used. If leaf litter becomes a problem, consider trimming back or replacing overgrown trees with smaller, cleaner tree varieties.
ADD SPECIALTY CHEMICALS: A weekly dosage of algaecide, clarifier, enzyme or metal sequestrant can be added weekly to help improve filtration, control algae or prevent metal staining. Pool water balance and control of algae requires a good stock of various pool chemicals.
MONTHLY POOL MAINTENANCE
CLEAN POOL FILTER: Usually it's monthly, but it's not really how long the filter has been operating; the indicator of when to backwash is your filter pressure gauge. When the gauge is 5-10 psi higher than normal (or when flow rate is noticeably reduced) the filter should be backwashed, or removed and cleaned if you have a cartridge filter.
SHOCK THE POOL: Also not necessarily a monthly task, but many pool owners make it a monthly habit to raise the chlorine level to 5 or 10 ppm, to kill any bacteria or algae that may be lurking. Another reason to shock is to break apart combined chlorine, as tested by a DPD test kit. When combined chlorine levels exceed 0.3 ppm, it's recommended to shock to a level 10x greater than the tested CC level.
CHECK CALCIUM & CYANURIC ACID: These two levels tend to stay fairly stable month to month, but should be tested each month, and adjustments made if necessary. Calcium Hardness should be in a range of 200-400 ppm, but vinyl and fiberglass pools are OK with levels as low as 150 ppm. Cyanuric acid levels should be in the range of 30-40 ppm, and if it rises above 50 ppm, dilute by draining a portion of the pool and refilling.
SATURATION INDEX TEST: As water gets warmer in the summer, suggested water balance levels change. By adding a water temperature factor to your readings for pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness, you can optimize water balance to reduce chances of staining, scaling or etching of pool surfaces. King Technology has a nice Saturation Index calculator.
CLEAN WATER LINE & SKIMMERS: A lifeguard trick I learned years ago, was that if you keep the inside of the skimmers clean, the water line around the pool stays cleaner. Use a scrubbing sponge and cleanser to clean the throat and well of the skimmer, removing oily scum and dirt. To remove a bathtub ring around your pool, use a Tile & Vinyl cleaner, or small amounts of a chlorine based cleanser.
CHECK TIME CLOCK: Manual time clocks will stop turning during summer power outages. Check the current time on your time clock and reset if necessary by pulling out on the dial and turning it to align with the arrow pointing down at 6 o'clock.
ANNUAL POOL MAINTENANCE
CLEAN DIVE & SLIDE SURFACES: If your pool is as busy as mine during the summer, the slide and diving board surfaces can develop a slick sheen from body oil and airborne pollutants. I use a powdered chlorine based cleanser like Comet©, or you can use a pool Tile & Vinyl cleaner. Whatever you use, it's best to avoid splashing too much cleanser into the pool.
CHECK BOLTS FOR TIGHTNESS: Diving board bolts, ladder tread bolts on slides and pool ladders can work themselves loose over time.
TUNE-UP POOL CLEANER: Pool cleaners have a lot of parts in contact with the pool, and other wearable parts too. Inspect closely for parts that need replacement, and order some pool cleaner parts.
CLEAN FILTER THOROUGHLY: DE filters need to be removed and thoroughly hosed clean at least once per year. After hosing clean, soak in a pool filter cleaner made specifically for DE filters. Cartridge filters can also benefit from an annual chemical bath, to dissolve minerals and oils soaked into the fabric. Sand filters also develop layers of oily deposits in the top few inches of sand, which can be dissolved by using a sand filter cleaner annually.
LUBRICATE O-RINGS: The pump lid o-ring, filter o-rings, chlorinator lid o-rings and o-rings inside of a push-pull valve should be lubricated once or twice per year. Any black o-ring on your pool system can be protected with a thin layer of Teflon pool lube. Don't use Vaseline, or other Petroleum lube, which can damage rubber.
If you really want to Geek Out - here's a printable schedule you may find useful. Just print it out on your printer!
Thanks for Reading!