Summer is here, and one great way to beat the summer heat is with an above ground pool. Like an in-ground pool, an above ground pool requires some maintenance to keep the water clean and crystal clear. But with regular maintenance and cleaning, you can enjoy your above ground pool all summer long and even into the autumn months. Don’t know where to start? Try these tips for cleaning your above ground pool.
It Starts With the Pump
The pump is the heart of your swimming pool and is the most critical factor in keeping your pool water clean and clear. Like your heart, the pump keeps the pool water circulating. Having a strong enough pump for the size of your pool is essential. Your pump should be able to turn over the water in your pool every eight hours. That means that in the course of eight hours, every single drop of water in your pool has circulated through the pump.
Keeping pool water moving will help keep your pool clean. Moving water is less likely to grow algae. By keeping the water moving, more debris is directed into your skimmer and on to the filter. The filter will collect both large and small debris, even including microscopic particles. By keeping debris and tiny particles out of your pool water, the pump along with the filter can prevent your pool water from becoming dull or cloudy.
If the pump is the heart of your above ground pool, the filter is the kidneys, liver, and spleen. While keeping water moving is a first step in keeping it clean, the real work of keeping water clean is done by the filter.
There are three main types of filter: sand filters, D.E. filters, and cartridge filters.
A Sand filter removes debris and particles from the water as the water passes through a very particular type of sand. The sand traps debris and other impurities (such as oils and biological waste) as the water passes through it. Eventually, the sand becomes overly full of junk and needs to be cleaned. This is done by backwashing the filter.
A D.E. filter uses a special type of powder, Diatomaceous Earth. D.E. is made up of the microscopic skeletons of Diatoms, an ancient subaquatic creature. The D.E. powder adheres to a grid made of synthetic fibers, basically a type of thin mesh. The D.E. acts as a filter, trapping even the tiniest microscopic particles in water as it passes through the filter. Eventually, the D.E. powder becomes full of debris it has successfully removed from the water. When that happens, you will need to backwash the filter. Occasionally it is necessary to remove the filter and manually clean it, removing all the D.E. After this type of cleaning, add more D.E. to the filter via the skimmer.
A cartridge filter works by filtering water through a cartridge that captures debris and particulate matter. To clean the filter, just remove the cartridge and rinse it with a hose. Eventually, you will need to replace the cartridge.
Vacuuming and Brushing an Above Ground Pool
No matter how powerful your pump is, there will always be areas where the water circulates less freely. These are hot spots for algae growth. To keep your pool free of large and small debris, it is important to vacuum the walls and floor of the pool at least once a week. There are also automatic vacuums that can move around the floor of your pool and pick up stray garbage. However, even with an automatic cleaner, the pool walls and floor will need to be brushed one a week.
To brush the pool, use a brush attached to the end of a swimming pool extension pole. You can get an extension pole at any swimming pool store and many home improvement stores. It’s a great tool to have. It can be fitted with a brush, a skimmer, or a vacuum and extends your reach so you can get at the whole pool easily. Almost all above ground pools require a brush with nylon bristles. This is what you should use unless the pool manufacturer’s instructions specifically say otherwise.
Make sure to brush the whole surface of the pool’s walls and floor. Even a small missed spot can harbor algae, which will quickly regrow if not knocked loose. Brush first, before vacuuming. Brushing loosens up all of the algae or dirt that is stuck to the walls and floor of your pool so that the vacuum can suck them up and remove them from the water.
Maintaining pH and Chlorine Levels
The most common type of maintenance you will do on your pool is checking and balancing the levels of chemicals in your pool water. The two main things to check for are pH levels and the amount of sanitizer in the water. It’s best to test the water about three times a week, or every other day. This will give you a good idea of the factors that affect your pools pH and sanitizer levels. Factors include the number of people using the pool, the temperature, amount of sunlight, and rainfall.
One of the easiest ways to test your pool’s water is with a test strip and a digital reader. A digital reader will give you a quick indication of the pH level and the amount of chlorine left in your pool. If the pH is outside of the 7.2 to 7.6 range, adjust it. You can adjust pH with acidic pH reducers and basic pH increasers. Chlorine should remain around 1 to 3 ppm. If you are having trouble maintaining a steady pH balance in your pool, the next thing to check is the alkalinity. If the alkalinity is outside of the normal range, it can affect pH. Add the appropriate chemicals to stabilize the alkalinity and your pH should stabilize as well.
Chlorine in your pool’s water will eventually break down. One way this occurs is when the chlorine is exposed to UV rays from the sun. Another way that chlorine levels decrease is through interaction with other chemicals. Bathers introduce a whole variety of chemicals, including sunscreen, hair lotions, and uric acid from sweat and urine.
One way to keep a regular supply of chlorine in your pool is with chlorine tablets. These tablets are highly compressed and give of chlorine slowly over time, maintaining the proper level of chlorine in the pool at all times. Other options for introducing chlorine to the pool include a special floater carrying chlorine or types of chlorine that go in your skimmer. Make sure that chlorine, in tablet form or otherwise, is always present in the pool water.
Shocking the Pool
Even with the filter running and well-balanced water, pool water can eventually start to build up debris. The most common type of debris that is not captured by the filter is chemical compounds. These compounds enter the pool in sweat, urine, hair spray, suntan oil, bug repellent, shampoos, and anything else that swimmers may have on their body. It is best to have all swimmers shower with a natural soap right before getting into the water to reduce these chemicals.
When this wide variety of chemicals is introduced into the pool, it can bond with the chlorine to create all sorts of new and unknown compounds. These compounds are responsible for most of the foul smell, itchy eyes, and skin irritation that most people blame on chlorine. Shocking the pool will oxidize most of those compounds and free up chlorine.
To shock a pool, add “shock” to the water. “Shock” is just a concentrated chemical, usually chlorine. In addition to oxidizing unwanted compounds, a shock treatment will also help kill any lingering algae. It’s best to wait about 5 hours after a shock treatment before entering a pool. You can also test the water after a shock treatment, and as soon as the chlorine level dips below 5 ppm, you should be safe to swim.
The Pool Butler White Glove Service
Maintaining an above ground pool requires almost daily effort. If you neglect maintenance for more than a few days, you could be turning your pool green and unusable. But there’s one way that you don’t have to worry about missing a cleaning. The Pool Butler offers our White Glove Service to take care of all of your above ground pool needs. So leave the work to us and enjoy a crystal clear pool all season long. Contact us today to find out how!