The ABC’s of Pool Care
As students prepare to head back to school this fall, we thought it would be a great time to brush up on the ABC’s…the ABC’s of Pool Care, that is. We’ve put together this list to help you brush up on common pool care terms to help keep your pool sparkling clean - even as you dive back into the routine of the school year.
A – Alkalinity – Water balance is important. Total alkalinity (TA) is a measure of the total amount of dissolved particles whose pH is higher than 7.0. TA should be kept at 80-120 ppm otherwise plaster can etch, metals can corrode and pool surfaces can stain.
B – Bromine – Is used in swimming pools and hot tubs, much like chlorine, to sanitize the pool water. It is effective in killing contaminants and inexpensive to use.
C – Chlorine – Chlorine is the most common chemical used for swimming pool sanitizing. It is available in liquid, tablet or granular form.
D – Deck Maintenance – Pool decks should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to kill bacteria and reduce slipperiness. Cleaning procedures will depend on your type of deck but most can be cleaned with a pressure washer.
E – Energy Efficiency – Maintaining your pool can be energy efficient when you choose to run your filtration system during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower. You can also choose to circulate your water through the filter only once a day as to not waste energy.
F – Filter – Swimming pool filters are used to remove dirt and debris that enter the water through swimmers and the environment. The three types are sand, cartridge and diatomaceous Earth (DE). The type of pool filter you choose can depend on the size of your pool, type or even your geographic region.
G – Green Algae – Algae (green being the most popular) is a common pool water problem because it is visibly obvious. It can become a feeding ground for harmful bacteria. Algae can be treated with pool shock, proper water circulation and vacuuming.
H – Hardness – The measure of all dissolved minerals in a pool’s water is known as total hardness. If the hardness is low, it could result in corrosive water. High levels of hardness can result in scale formation. The recommended level is 200-400ppm and can be increased with calcium chloride or decreased with draining some of the water.
I – Iron – Metals like iron can find their way into pool water from fill or ground water and by metal accessories corroding. You can shock the pool to oxidize the metal and the resulting “rust” can ben vacuumed out of the pool. You can also use a “metal out” product to fight off any new metals.
J – Just Ask – Many pool owners opt to leave the work to the professionals. If you have any questions regarding pool care, it is wise to just ask a pool professional. They are available to make suggestions and provide solutions.
K – Kit (Test Kit) – A test kit is used to monitor chemical levels in pool or hot tub water. It measures pH, TA, free chlorine, hardness and metals present in the water. You can either perform the test yourself or bring a sample to your pool professional.
L – LSI – Langelier Saturation Index is a way to evaluate your pool water to determine if it has the tendency to form scale. To use this index, you need to measure pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids, alkalinity and total hardness. The ideal range is -.05 to +.05. If below, your water is corrosive. If above, it can form scale.
M – Main Drain – Connects to the pool pump for circulation and filtration. They are located in the lowest part of the pool so that the dirt and debris can exit the pool.
N – Neutralizer – This is the chemical used to destroy excessive amounts of chlorine or bromine, making them harmless to swimmers. It is also used in test kits to counteract the bleaching effect.
O – Oxidizer – A non-chlorine shocking compound that removes or destroys built-up contaminants and chloramines in pool water without raising chlorine levels.
P – Pump – The pump moves water from the pool and sends it through the filter to remove dirt and debris before moving it back into the pool. You should consult your pool professional to learn how long to run your pump, as this will depend on the type, size and swimmer load of your specific pool.
Q – Questions about Maintenance – Your swimming pool is a big investment. If you have any questions regarding certain pool issues, you should always consult your local pool professional before attempting to remedy any issues on your own.
R – Rain Cleanup – Rain can wash debris into the pool and increase the demand for sanitizer. You should rebalance the water after circulating it for at least 24 hours following a large rainfall.
S – Saltwater Chlorination– Basic table salt is converted into chlorine when the water passes through a saltwater generator cell – turning the salt into hypochlorous acid. When the water returns to the pool, this newly produced chlorine creates a safe and healthy alternative to traditional chlorine.
T – Tile Cleaning – You should clean your tile at least once a week to avoid algae and dirt buildup. You can do this with a tile cleaner and non-abrasive brush – available in a variety of sizes.
U – Understanding your Automatic Cleaner – There are 3 different types of automatic cleaners: suction side pool cleaners, pressure side pool cleaners, and robotic pool cleaners. Suction Cleaners function as a skimmer and work in conjunction with your pumping and filtration system — these are the most common. Pressure Cleaners use water pressure to function and often have replaceable filter bags that trap dirt from the pool. Robotic Cleaners have a self-contained pump and filter system, and usually trap dirt with an internal filter and need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
V – Vacuum Heads – You should vacuum your pool on a regular basis if you are not using an automatic cleaner. Vacuum heads are attached to a telescopic pole and vacuum hose. There are 2 different types, depending on your pool surface: one weighted with wheels for concrete pools and one with brusheds? instead of wheels for vinyl pools.
W – Weir – Also known as the skimmer weir, it’s the small floating door on the side of the skimmer that adjusts automatically to small changes in water level to assure a continuous flow of water to the skimmer.
X – X-treme Temperatures – You need to take extra care of your pool during extreme temperatures. You will want to add a pool cover to protect your pool from snow, debris or animals. Makes sure excess water is removed from your pool parts so that it does not freeze internally, which can cause them to crack. Chemically balance your water before covering it to prevent algae and bacteria growth.
Y – Year-Round Maintenance – Year-round maintenance can do more than just prolong your fun in the sun. It also can extend the life of your pool’s external parts and interior pool finish. If you don’t have time or expertise, be sure to hire a pool professional to help.
Z – Zeolite – An alternative to quartz or silica for use in sand filters. Zeolite can provide filtration down to 3 microns, is able to absorb heavy metals such as iron or manganese, and absorbs ammonia and nitrogen compounds.