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Pool Cleaning Tips0

My girlfriend and I recently purchased a house (yay!).  And this house has a pool (double yay!).

From past experience I can say that taking care of a pool can be a chore at times.  When I was in junior college, my parents had a pool.  I was doing the typical college bum thing, staying in their house while they were at a second house in Georgia (though to my credit, I was working three jobs at the time).  I simply wasn’t at home very much.

One day I found that the pool had turned green.  Really, really green.  It wasn’t that I had neglected taking care of it.  In fact, I had followed my parents’ instructions to the letter.  But here in Florida, we sometimes get tons of rain.  A recent storm had torn through the area, raging for about three days, and all of the rain had changed the pH level of the pool.

Not being a particularly bright person, it took me FOREVER to fix this issue.  And I’ll get to how I did that in a moment.  First I want to give you FIYers a few tips on how to keep your pool crystal clear.

  1. Make sure to skim the pool regularly.  If your pool is screened in, skimming is not as urgent, but with an outdoor pool, skim every day at minimum.  Our pool is surrounded by a variety of trees that poop leaves into the pool like a fat guy after the all-you-can-eat bean burrito special at the worst Mexican restaurant in town.  Needless to say, I do a lot of skimming—and soon will be doing a lot of trimming as well.
  2. Vacuum the bottom of the pool to keep algae from forming, particularly if your pool is in a hotter climate.  You can get a manual pool vacuum, but it makes life a lot easier if you buy an automatic pool cleaner.  Mine looks like a robotic monkey on wheels—and it does a pretty good job of sucking up all of the debris that falls to the bottom.
  3. Scrub the walls.  Gunk builds up at the waterline on the tiles that border the pool.  Jumping into the pool with a scrub brush and scouring around the edges easily rectifies this problem.  Plus you can have a frosty beverage while doing it.
  4. Make sure you clean all strainers and filters. Otherwise,  stuff builds up that can cause undue strain on your pump system.

Here’s the tricky part: maintain the proper chemical balance of the water. A standard pool testing kit contains a tester, which is something like two test tubes attached to color chart with numbers, and several little bottles of solution, which are labeled for specific uses. Though it looks like a chemistry set, it’s quite easy to use:

  • Dip the tester into the water – at least 18-inches to insure that you have an accurate sampling.
  •  Test for free chlorine and residual chlorine by adding drops of solution to the water in the tube.  Cap the tubes and slowly flip upside down several times.  Wait a few seconds for things to settle, then compare the liquid to the color chart to determine your free chlorine level.  After a few minutes check again to determine  the level of residual chlorine.
  • Next, test the pH of the pool.  Empty the tester and refill.  Then add five drops of the proper solution.  Swirl this gently until mixed, then check the color chart.
  • Now you come to the acid test.  Using a sampling of water from your pH test, add drops from the bottle of acid titrant (Don’t worry—it’ll be labeled.  These tests sound more difficult than they are.) Add drops until the color of the test water matches the color on the chart marked 7.4.  There should be an acid dosage chart with the kit that will tell you how much acid needs to be added to the pool.
  • And finally, you need to test for total alkalinity.  This test requires a combination of the various solutions to obtain a proper reading.  You then multiply the number by 10 to determine the alkalinity of the water.

Make sure to write down all of your findings so that you can add the proper amount of chemicals.  And keep in mind that there are certain rules to follow.  For example, if your residual chlorine is above 3.0, you don’t need to bother with the pH test.  Again, don’t worry—it’ll all be in the step-by-step instructions.

Oh, yeah.  How did I get my parent’s pool looking beautiful again?  After trying everything I could think of, I crumbled and got help from a pool supply store.  The owner said I needed to dump diatomaceous earth (ground-up bones) into the filter, and let it do its thing.

But that’s a different story entirely . . .

by John Barker

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