1. Skim Debris from the Pool Surface
Skimming the surface of your pool is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to keep your pool clean. Floating debris such as leaves, bugs, pollen, etc. generally floats for 3-4 hours before sinking to the bottom. Once it sinks it’s harder to remove. Plus, it brings with it all the nutrients necessary for algae to thrive. The longer it remains in your pool, the more it decomposes – and the more it depletes the pool’s free chlorine.
And empty out your skimmer baskets at the same time. Don’t let the debris that gets sucked into the skimmers brew in there like tea that’s only going to be pumped back into your pool.
How often should you skim the pool and empty the skimmer baskets? If you don’t have a pool cover, once a day. If you do have a pool cover, then every 3 or 4 days will suffice.
2. Throw a Tennis Ball or Two into the Pool
This is an old pro trick that’s a cheap, effortless, and effective way to remove surface oils caused by suntan lotions, makeup, body and hair oils, etc. – all of which can lead to cloudy water and/or a depletion of your pool’s free chlorine levels.
What happens is that the oils get absorbed into the tennis balls’ fluffy surface. Therefore, newer tennis balls work better than older ones. Oh, and try not to chuck into the pool that tennis ball your dog’s been chewing on!
3. Clean the Pool Regularly
Clean your pool at least once a week. First of all, brush the pool walls, tile-line, steps, and ladders. Brushing the walls and surfaces minimizes the build-up of algae and mineral deposits that can lead to cloudy pool water. Think of this the same way you think of brushing your teeth.
For plaster or concrete pools, use a stiff brush; for tiles, fiberglass, or vinyl, use a soft brush.
Then vacuum the pool. If you have a manual vacuum, empty and clean the pump basket when you’re finished. And, if you have a sand filter, backwash and rinse.
4. Test & Maintain the Pool Water Chemical Balance
During the summer, check and adjust the chemical balance twice a week. The best time for this is in the early evening after the last bather has left the pool. The ideal ranges are:
- pH 7.4-7.6
- Chlorine 1-3 ppm
The real pro cleaning tip is this: if you keep your pool water chemicals properly balanced, you won’t need to do as much cleaning.
5. Shock the Pool
Depending on how heavily your pool has been used, ammonia and nitrogen compounds will build up in the water. These interact with the chlorine to form chloramines – leading to cloudy water and/or that familiar smelly “chlorine” odour.
Shocking the water once a week by adding a large dose of chlorine eliminates not only the chloramines but also bacteria and other contaminants, and will help prevent potential future problems including algae growth.
Again, the best time to do this is at dusk, with your filter system running overnight. Why? Because chlorine is degraded by ultra-violet light (i.e. sunshine). It only takes a couple of hours of sunshine, if your stabilizer levels are too low, to destroy virtually an entire pool’s worth of chlorine. Adding chlorine at night means it can get to work without being degraded by ultra violet sunlight. What’s more, at night the chlorine is most useful – neutralising whatever’s been introduced to the water during an afternoon of swimming.
If you have a pool cover, you need to shock your pool less often: usually once every 10 days to weeks.
6. Keep a Pumice Stone Handy
If the grout between your tiles, or the plaster or concrete liner of your pool, starts showing signs of algae growth that regular brushing won’t remove, give the infected area a rub with a pumice stone. The gentle yet abrasiveness of the pumice should be, at least in the early stages of algae growth, sufficient to break through the algae’s external protective layer without damaging the grouting/pool surface, and thereby allow you pool chemicals to get to work on destroying them.
7. Make Sure the Stabiliser Level is Correct
If your stabiliser level is wrong your chlorine isn’t going to be able to do its job, and your pool is going to have all sorts of problems.
As already mentioned, chlorine is degraded by sunlight. Pool stabiliser (cyanuric acid) slows down this process and increases the lifespan of the chlorine in your pool by anything between 5 and 10 times. However, the stabiliser level need to be maintained at 30-60 parts per million (ppm). Below that level, chlorine rapidly degrades. However, above that level there is no marginal benefit, and at anything above 100ppm, the stabilizer actually prevents the chlorine from sanitising the water.
The practical upshot of all of which is: if your stabiliser level is in the correct range, you shouldn’t have problems that need cleaning up!