Summer is a great time to go out and use your pool. Whether you’re hosting a large pool party or just swimming laps alone, summertime is the best time to enjoy your pool. But here in Georgia summertime is also prime time for severe thunderstorms. While a small amount of rain won’t affect your pool very much, a storm that drops 1 to 3 inches in a short period will. To keep your pool healthy, you will need to prepare before the storm and do some maintenance afterward. In this article we’ll discuss treating your pool before and after it rains to keep your pool clean, healthy, and ready for fun.
What Is the Ideal State for Pool Water?
When it comes to taking care of your pool water, the two biggest concerns are pH and chlorine levels. While other water balance issues are important, these two issues have the most significant effect on the health and safety of your pool.
It is important to keep the pH of your pool as close to 7.5 as possible. That’s because 7.5 is the pH of your eyes, nose, and other sensitive parts of your body. By keeping the pH close to the natural pH of your body, you avoid irritating sensitive mucous membranes. When the pH of your pool deviates too far from 7.5, you will find that the pool water is leaving you with red, itchy eyes and dry, sensitive skin. It may also start to turn bleach out swim trunks or even affect parts of the pool itself.
Maintaining a proper chlorine level is also vital to the health of your pool. Chlorine is the most significant factor in preventing the buildup of organic chemicals and debris in your pool water. It also fends off algae and bacteria that would normally flourish in standing water.
There are three chlorine levels to be aware of in your pool. Free chlorine is the amount of chlorine that is free and ready to attack the bad stuff in your pool. Combined chlorine, also called chloramine, is the chlorine that has already been used up. It’s what creates the chlorine smell typical of some pools. The total chlorine is simply the total of both types of chlorine. When the levels of free chlorine drop, your pool can start to get dirty or cloudy. When this happens, it may become necessary to shock your pool with a strong chlorine solution or a non-chlorine shock.
How Does Rainwater Affect Pool Water?
A small amount of rain will have little to no effect on your pool. However, when a storm dumps 1 to 3 inches of water in a short period, it could take a toll on your pool water. The extent of the damage and the amount of rainwater it takes to have an effect depends on the size of your pool. But 1 to 3 inches is a good rule of thumb.
One thing most people don’t know about rainwater is that it is acidic. It has a lower pH than your pool water, so if enough of it gets in your pool, it could lower its pH. Another issue with rainwater is that it picks up tiny bits of organic matter and algae spores form everything it touches. It can even collect algae spores from the air. So when a significant amount of rainwater enters your pool, it brings with it just the sort of debris you work so hard to keep out.
Preparing Your Pool for a Storm
If you know a storm is coming with the potential for significant rainfall, there are some things you can do to prepare your pool and the surrounding area.
First, check your backyard, especially the pool deck and area right around the pool, for loose items. Here in Georgia, our summer storms often come with some pretty strong winds. Loose items, such as lawn furniture, pool toys, and pool maintenance equipment are all at risk of blowing into your pool.If you look further around your yard, there can be other items at risk for blowing around, too. If you have a grill that is not secured to the ground, it could be pushed around by strong winds. Potted plants and yard decorations are also a danger. Take all of these loose items to an indoors area, such as a shed or garage, before the storm hits. If these items are blown into your pool, it could cause damage, besides bringing with them dirt and other debris.
If your pool has any electric or gas lines attached to it, make sure they are shut down and properly protected. Turn off your pool pump and check timers to make sure they won’t be automatically turned on again. If you have a pump cover, place it over the pump before the storm hits as an added layer of protection. If you have a gas-powered water heater, you need to protect it from severe storm damage. Try to turn off the gas at its source. Also, invest in a heater cover. This will protect your heater from undue damage during a severe downpour or thunderstorm.
Preparing Pool Water for a Storm
Most pools have an overflow system to handle extra water. If you want to be extra safe, you can lower the pool water by up to one foot before a heavy storm. However, don’t lower it any more than that. Hydrostatic pressure from saturated earth will put pressure on the bottom of your pool. It is crucial to keep enough weight from the pool water to counteract that pressure.
You can expect a heavy rain to introduce lots of organic matter and algae spores to your pool. The main time to deal with the mess is after the storm has passed. However, it’s not a bad idea to pretreat your pool water. Adding some algicide to your pool water will help you get out ahead of the algae. It can help prevent an algae bloom when the rain clears and the sun comes out and warms the water.
Cleaning Your Pool After Heavy Rain
Once the rain subsides and the weather clears up, it’s time to go outside and assess the damage. The first thing you should do is remove any large debris. Fallen tree branches, blown patio furniture, and other large, obvious debris should be removed from the pool. Next, check the skimmer and pump basket for debris such as leaves and organic matter. Once the skimmer and pump basket have been emptied, you can turn on the pump to start filtering out small debris.
While your pump is doing its job, break out the skimmer net and pool vacuum to clean up larger debris. You can use a garden hose to spray down the deck and push leaves and other debris away from the pool. Keeping debris away from the edge of the pool will prevent more debris from entering the pool after you clean it.
Once the pool has been cleared of large debris and the pump is doing its job, you can move on to smaller debris and algae. Brush and vacuum your pool as you would during a normal cleaning.
If your pool has a lot of excess water, you may want to drain some of it. First, turn your filter to “waste”. Then hook up the backwash hose and turn on the pump. This will suck water out of the pool and dump it. Drain water until the water level reaches the halfway mark of your skimmer, but not more.
Balancing the Water
Once the water is clean, you can run a full test to check all of your chemical levels. The acidity in the rain can lower pH levels. It can also affect your alkalinity. Chlorine levels can also be affected as the free chlorine in your pool water goes to work fighting off new organic debris.
If you’re not familiar with how to run a test of all of your pool chemical levels, get professional help. The Pool Butler can help you test and balance your pool water after a storm. We can also set up a maintenance plan to keep your pool water clean and healthy all season long. It may be necessary to shock the pool or add algaecide, too. The Pool Butler will know exactly how to get your pool water back in order, so don’t wait for a problem. Contact us today to get started with our White Glove Service™.