Congratulations! You have a brand new pool filled with sparkly clean water. The dig crew has left and your backyard is your own private space again. If you’ve never owned a pool before, you might be eyeing it nervously, wondering how much you remember about how to maintain the pool.

Never fear, if you had The Complete Backyard build your pool – we left you with a Pool School book with lots of information about how to maintain your pool. You are also a graduate of TCB’s Pool School. Our goal is to make you, the owner of the new pool, comfortable. When you are going through Pool School, we encourage homeowners to record the conversations so you can refer back to the information when you need to. And, of course, you are always welcome to call our office for more information.

However, if you are looking for a quick pool maintenance refresher, keep reading.

How often should I test my pool water?

If you have contracted for a weekly pool maintenance service, you know the pool company will test your water once per week. However, that is not often enough. As a homeowner, you will get more enjoyment out of your pool by testing your water two to three times per week. This way, when you start to notice an imbalance in the your water, you can begin treating it in a proactive manner, before levels become too high or too low.

When testing your pool water, you are looking to test the water clarity and color, the chlorine levels, and the pH. By testing more frequently, you can make minor adjustments, rather than major adjustments. Every new pool owner who contracts with TCB receives an initial test kit. When that kit runs out, we recommend purchasing a Taylor Test Kit, these kits can be ordered with English or Spanish instructions. 

What tests should I run on my pool?

You can quickly check your ideal pool level numbers by using Trouble Free Pools calculator chart. Simply tick which type of pool you have; vinyl, plaster, or fiberglass, and whether you use liquid chlorine or a salt generator and it will produce a chart showing your ideal levels.

Homeowners will want to test their pH and chlorine levels three times each week. They will want to test their alkalinity and calcium hardness levels once each week. If you have a weekly pool service contract, they will test the alkalinity and calcium hardness as part of their maintenance. You can also count on them as one of the pH and chlorine tests, meaning you only need to test your pool twice a week.

  • pH Levels: The ideal pH level for a pool is between 7.2 to 7.8. A pH balance lower than 7.2 tends to make the water more corrosive which can lead to etching of the plaster and metal equipment parts. A lower level of pH also means your pool is burning through chlorine faster than it should. Having a pH balance higher than 7.8 will increase the likelihood of having a high calcium hardness as the calcium is more likely to precipitate at higher pH levels.
  • Alkalinity: The alkalinity level of your pool is affected by the pH. If the pH is high, so will the alkalinity. Keeping the pool at the right alkalinity is essential for the chlorine to work at its peak performance. Pool owners will also notice balancing the alkalinity feels better on the skin and is easier on pool equipment.
  • Calcium Hardness: If the calcium hardness is too high, the water can appear cloudy. In addition to this, the excess calcium will show as a grayish white scale on pipes and equipment. Not only is it unsightly, but if too much develops inside your piping it will slow the water flow increasing the amount of work your equipment must do and decreasing efficiency. There is no chemical to add to treat a high level of calcium hardness. Calcium hardness usually stays in check when the pH and alkalinity are in balance. However, sometimes the homeowner must drain some of the pool water and refill it with lower hardness water.

    On the other hand, a pool owner also doesn’t want their calcium hardness to be too low. Low calcium levels in the pool water will cause the water to leach calcium from the grout, plaster, or concrete decking causing permanent etching. To increase the calcium level, add calcium chloride, following the manufacturers directions for the size of your pool.

How often should I clean my skimmer basket and pump basket?

Although these are items checked during the weekly pool service visit, this is another area where you want to be proactive. You will need to clean these whenever they are full. Check your baskets two to three times per week on a regular basis. Also, pay attention to the weather. If a storm blows through the day after you clean the baskets and blows a lot of leaves into your pool, you will have to empty the baskets again.

What other weekly maintenance should I do with my pool?

The homeowner or maintenance service should also check the filter pressure on a weekly basis. If the filter pressure is too high, then the filter will need to be cleaned. Usually filters need to be cleaned once each quarter. 

Twice a year, homeowners need to test for CYA (cyanuric acid). CYA is added to pools to prevent the sunlight from burning out the chlorine in the pool. Think of CYA as a sunblock for the chlorine. Usually this needs to be added to a pool at the beginning of the season and at the end of the season. However, after a heavy rain, homeowners will want to check their CYA levels to be sure it did not wash out if the pool overflowed.

Do you still have a pool maintenance question we didn’t answer? Another resource we love is Trouble Free Pool. Of course, we are also always happy to help you solve your pool questions. Reach out to us today!