By Becky Flanigan
I remember when we first got our family pool. It was a glorious experience to watch the kids jump in for the first time. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about pool maintenance – the right ways to do things, and from some painful experience, we found out a couple of wrong ways to do things. With that hard-won experience, I can pass along some thoughts for people who are getting a pool for the first time. Here are the most valuable four maintenance tips I can think of:
1) Don’t neglect the upkeep. We thought having the pool was a great idea, but the first year or so, we were lax on the maintenance part of the equation. Who knew that an unattended filter basket could build up debris so quickly. Or that the pH levels of the pool could get out of balance within a week.
It was a shock when we realized that we had neglected taking care of the pool to the point where we had a lot more work to restore the pool to good working order than we would have otherwise. We found it very helpful to be regular about upkeep, and schedule it in to our lives just like we do taking the kids to their school activities. That way it doesn’t slide onto the back burner and end up creating headaches later on.
2) Attend to the chemicals. One time we went on vacation for a week and didn’t think to have anyone watch our pool for us. There was a big storm, a lot of water got in the pool, and we got home from vacation to a green slimy pool, just covered with algae.
My husband Ed had to spend an entire weekend scrubbing the pool, and using an algaecide shock treatment to clear the water. It was not a lot of fun. Another time, a couple brought their baby to our pool, and though they weren’t there long, we started noticing that our kids were getting sick. We hadn’t monitored the chlorine level properly, and the bacteria had built up to the point that it was affecting our kids. We don’t mess around with the proper chlorine level any more, I can tell you.
3) Regularly check the pool. When I say regularly check the pool, I mean for everything. It’s like a finely tuned machine with a lot of components, and if you don’t do visual inspections, things just have a way of coming unraveled at an alarming rate. One thing that we never would have thought of when we first got the pool – the pool toys. Our kids were using those toys constantly, and I mean really throwing them around the pool. One of the boys cut his finger pretty badly on a paddle buddy toy. They toy had big dog ears on it and one of them frayed, leaving a nasty plastic edge. We learned to check things like the toys.
The chemicals in the pool – that’s pretty obvious – the pool chemicals need to be monitored a couple of times a week. But the other parts of the pool area are not so obvious. We have a fence around our pool, so the kids and dogs can’t get in when we’re not around. We have to walk around it and check it out. Has it gotten torn by high winds in a storm? Have one of the dogs tried to burrow underneath and torn it? We have a gate on the fence, with an alarm on it that sounds in the house when someone goes in without properly entering the code. Does that still work? We have to test the alarm regularly.
4) Check the pump and filter system. This is the engine of the pool system and the most important component to make sure our pool stays fresh and circulates properly. It has a lint basket that collect debris. It’s amazing how quickly leaves, lint and hair build up in it. It requires that we turn off the pump to clean it, but if we don’t do this cleaning – the pump can’t circulate as well, has to work harder, and will wear out more quickly. We have to monitor the pump pressure – if it goes too high above normal, it’s time to backwash the filter system.
There is a lot of maintenance that has to take place to make the family pool a fun experience. Regular attendance to those maintenance tasks will make sure that the pool gives long hours of family enjoyment. It may seem to be a drag at times, but when the kids are playing “Marco Polo” and having pool fun with their friends, it’s all worth it!
Becky Flanigan is a freelance writer for PoolCenter.com. She has three kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers. After studying things like pool pump motors to design their pool for maximum efficiency, she spends hours with her family at their home pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. She is also an avid runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon. Follower her @Becky_Flanigan