By Guest Author Sarah O’Rielly
Come summer and thoughts of spending hours swimming in your very own pool can be very inviting. There’s no better way to relax and de-stress after a long day at work or just spend the weekend hanging around with family and friends.
However, owning a pool is not just fun and games. There are a few things you must do to make sure the water is clean and the surroundings are safe for everyone. Failing to do this can lead to disastrous results. Despite all of the advice out there, many pool owners keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Here are top ten mistakes that most pool owners make.
#1- Doing a visual check to test the water
It’s surprising how many people quickly scan the pool to ensure it looks clean before they get in. The fact is a visual check is simply not enough to determine how dirty the pool water is. You may think it is clean because the water looks clear enough and you do not see any debris or dead creature floating in the pool but it’s what you cannot see that can be hazardous to your health.
Don’t rely on visual checks to determine the cleanliness of the water. Test the water weekly, clean the pool regularly with a good robotic pool cleaner and use the recommended chemicals to maintain the pH balance of the water.
#2 Not clearing out the debris from the filter and strainer baskets
Most pool owners underestimate the amount of debris that gets collected in the strainer basket of the pool cleaner. The problem with letting the debris accumulate is that as the filter gets dirtier, it makes it more difficult for the pump to push water through, reducing the flow to the pool. This creates several problems from reduced filtration efficiency to insufficient chlorine getting added to the water. Eventually the filter will stop working and the pump will get damaged.
Avoiding this domino effect is simple. Clean out the filter and strainer basket and change the salt cell on a regular basis.
#3 Letting the water level go too low
When the water in the pool goes below the recommended level, the pump starts drawing air instead of water and after a while it will get damaged and stop working. Another danger in running the pump when the water level is low is that the water inside the pump housing starts to heat up and can reach up to more than 200 degrees. This scalding heat and steam can melt the fittings, piping and the pump.
Being diligent about checking water levels in the pool regularly can save you a lot of stress and cost.
#4 Neglecting to test the pool water and make pH adjustments
You must maintain an alkalinity of about 80 – 140 PPM in a swimming pool. This alkalinity level makes the pool comfortable for everyone and allows the chemicals in the water to function more efficiently.
To maintain the pool’s chemistry and make the pool more comfortable for anyone using it, check the pool water at least once a week and add chemicals as necessary to maintain the balance. If your eyes burn when you are in the pool, chances are it is because the pH balance is out of whack.
#5 Not brushing areas that a robotic pool cleaner cannot reach
It’s great to own a robotic pool cleaner. You simply put the cleaner in the pool, switch it on and it goes about cleaning the pool while sit by the poolside and sunbathe or sit indoors and relax. However, even the best robotic pool cleaner cannot reach some areas such as the top stairs and behind the ladder. Very few can actually clean up to the water line. If you don’t put in the extra effort to clean these areas with a brush, they will start to collect algae and will compromise the quality of the water.
To discourage the formation of additional algae and bacteria and keep the pool water clean, schedule a few minutes every two weeks to brush those unreachable areas before you use your robotic pool cleaner. This will allow the cleaner to pick up the grime that you have loosened from those surfaces.
#6 Not checking the pressure gauge
As the pump filtration system starts collecting leaves and debris, it affects the system’s efficiency. A quick look at the pressure gauge will tell you a lot about the condition of the filter. The higher the reading in the pressure gauge, the more urgent the need to clean the filter. If the reading is low, it could be an indication that there is an air leak or that something is blocking the pump of the filter. Check both to determine what is causing the low pressure.
Creating a ‘baseline’ reading will give you a better idea of how high or how low the reading is in the pressure gauge.
#7 Not pre-dissolving shock before adding it to the water
When shock is added directly to the pool water, the granules sink to the bottom. These granules contain a high concentration of chlorine which could weaken and damage certain surface materials such as vinyl.
To protect the pool surface and liners, always dissolve shock in a large bucket of water and pour this solution into the pool. It also helps in better distribution of the shock.
# 8 Shocking the pool haphazardly
When it comes to shocking the pool, when you do it is as important as how you do it. Shocking the pool as and when you remember is ineffective and a waste of time.
To get the benefits of shocking, it has to be done at the right time and at the recommended intervals. Ideally, you need to shock the pool once a week after sunset. The best way to add the shock chemical into the pool is to first dissolve the chemical in a bucket of water and pour the solution directly into the pool.
#9 Incorrect backwashing
Backwashing is an important step towards keeping the filter media clean but when overdone, it allows smaller debris particles to pass right through and go right back into the water.
When cleaning the filter, you must leave a small amount of debris in the filter. This acts as a barrier that prevents smaller particles from getting back into the pool. A good way to determine that you’ve left just the right amount of debris in the filter is to check the pressure gauge on the filter tank after you are done backwashing. Ideally, this reading should be in the range of 10 to 15 psi.
# 10 Not covering the pool when not in use
Even if you are using the pool every day in summer, it is still always a good idea to keep the pool covered when not in use. Keeping the pool covered prevents excessive leaves, debris and even small animals from falling into the pool. It also prevents unnecessary excessive water evaporation.
About the Author:
Sarah O’Rielly is from the review website http://roboticpoolcleaners.net/ where she writes about pool maintenance while also reviewing various robotic pool cleaners.