A swimming pool is a contained living body of water which, if not regularly cleaned, filtered and balanced, will turn stagnant and unhealthy. The key to maintaining a safe and clean pool is by recruiting professionals with the expertise of pool maintenance for regular servicing. This maintenance and servicing goes beyond the ordinary routine of brushing, debris picking and vacuuming to understanding in depth the three C’s of proper pool maintenance: circulation, cleaning and chemistry.
The water in a swimming pool should constantly move and circulate or, at least, periodically circulate for 10 to 12 hours a day. Proper circulation in swimming pools is an essential part of keeping the water clean and safe. The water becomes harmful to swimmers when the flow, through the filtration system, stops, making it stagnant, or when the circulation is lesser than stated by the manufacturer. Stagnant and poorly circulating waters are rich breeding grounds for bacteria, parasites and algae that are harmful to swimmers and cause skin, nose and eye irritations. Stagnant water also leads to a build up of potentially infectious bodily fluids which represent the average concentration of pollutants from swimmers. Without circulation, water is unevenly distributed throughout the pool causing chemical imbalances that make the water dirty and lose its clarity. When the water is properly circulating the chemicals are balanced out, dirt and debris is filtered out, the water stays clear throughout the seasons, the oils and cosmetics left by swimmers’ skins are cleared, and high sanitation levels are maintained.
To avoid circulation problems, routinely clean the pump and filter system. A drop in water pressure could indicate clogging at the filters, which stops the water from flowing through. Regularly spray out the filters to remove any trapped debris and make it easier for water to pass through.
Backwashing the filter frequently enhances circulation. Backwashing is a filter cleaning method which involves reversing the flow of water through the filter to dislodge trapped debris and contaminants through the multiport valve waste line. It is recommended to backwash the filter weekly or when the water gauge indicates a pressure rise to approximately 8 – 10 PSI. Backwashing increases filtration efficiency and provides a cleaner, safer swimming pool. Also change the filter every three to four weeks based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Clean the skimmer basket regularly and maintain the pool’s recommended water levels. Ideally, the water level should be at least ½ to ¾ up to the skimmer opening to allow enough room for water to flow under the top lip of the skimmer, but not enough room for debris to pass. Too little water can decrease the amount of water your system can screen while too much water can overwhelm the system and impede circulation.
Again, your swimming pool needs regular cleaning to maintain its hygiene. Cleaning it twice or thrice a week is advised and the most efficient ways of cleaning are leaf picking, brushing and vacuuming.
The leaf catching net removes dirt and debris floating on the water and also scoops some that have sunk to the bottom.
For brushing, a telescopic pool algae brush is what you need to scour the corners, walls and bottom of the swimming pool. Start with the stairs, as they receive the least attention from the pump and vacuum, then the walls, where you brush in straight, downward strokes from the waterline, then lastly the bottom. As you brush, push everything towards the main drain which is usually located at the lowest point in the pool. Whatever you remove from the surfaces should be pushed out of the pool, not allowed to settle back down.
Brushing your pool regularly prevents algae growth and scale buildup on the pool surface from particles that settle on the bottom for a long time. It also prevents buildup of mineral deposits along the waterline and etching caused by the harsh chemicals used in pool maintenance which, over time, corrodes the pool’s inner surface. Brushing regularly slows down this process considerably and adds more life to the pool.
It is recommended to brush more frequently after the pool has been newly plastered or pebbled to remove loose dust that can stain and scale the interior surface. At the same time this helps open the pores of the plaster to allow proper curing. More frequent brushing is also suggested whenever granular or powdered chemicals are added to the pool to regulate balance – brushing helps dissolve and disperse the chemicals easily. When the pump isn’t working (properly) frequent brushing is needed to avoid algal growth and stagnation.
Vacuuming, as well, keeps your pool clean and clear and prevents bigger maintenance problems. The pool vacuum consists of a vacuum head – the piece that suctions up all the dirt from the surface; a telescopic pole – which connects to the vacuum and reaches all ends, crevices and corners using interchangeable attachments like skimmers, brushes and nets; and a vacuum hose – which connects the vacuum head to the pump through the skimmer inlet which provides debris sucking power. Pool vacuuming is done just like carpet vacuuming – in slow, deliberate, linear passes – and keeps debris from piling up at the bottom or side of the pool. The more often a pool is vacuumed the cleaner and clearer the pool water will remain. Vacuuming creates movement in the pool and this movement helps with pool circulation.
Further, practicing correct pool chemistry is an important element in the three Cs of proper pool maintenance. The three most important parts of pool water chemistry are pH levels, alkalinity, and sanitization.
pH levels measure how acidic or basic the pool water is. When the pH levels are too high or too low, the pool can be at risk of scaling, cloudy water, corrosion of pool surfaces or equipment, cause skin irritation to swimmers, and make pool sanitizers and other chemicals less effective. The recommended pH levels for swimming pool water range from 7.2 – 7.6 and pH balancers are regularly used to maintain a healthy pH range. Pool acid and Soda Ash are some common chemicals that act as pH adjusters. The acid is used to lower high pH levels while Soda Ash raises pool pH levels.
Calcium hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium in the pool water. High calcium levels can result in calcium deposits on the pool surfaces and equipment while low calcium levels can cause etching and shorten the life of vinyl liners. The ideal range for calcium hardness is between 200 – 300 ppm for concrete pools and 170 – 225 ppm for pools with fiberglass, vinyl or tile finishing. Keeping calcium at optimal levels also contribute to alkalinity.
As for alkalinity, it is advised to maintain a total alkalinity of between 70 – 150 ppm. Low total alkalinity results in pH fluctuations and encourage corrosion and staining while high total alkalinity can contribute to cloudy water and scaling. The appropriate total alkalinity levels buffer the pH level of the water and keeps it from moving up and down at a drastic pace, and also absorbs certain changes in the water before they can affect the pH.
In addition, a pool stabilizer, also known as cyanuric acid or CYA, helps preserve the chlorine in the water by protecting it from the degradation effects of UV light. Since chlorine can easily evaporate, CYA acts as a binder and locks up the chlorine in the water to prevent it from evaporation. When the stabilizer level is low, more chlorine is used, and when it’s too high, there’ll be need to dilute the water to bring the level back down to the ideal 40 – 100 ppm.
Chlorine and Bromine are commonly used as pool disinfectants and sanitizers. They combine with bacteria, viruses and other contaminants in the pool to neutralize them. Stabilized chlorine products, available in a variety of forms including chlorination tablets, skimmer sticks and granules, are protected from sunlight breakdown and keep your pool waters clean and clear. A free chlorine level of 1.0 – 3.0 ppm should be maintained at all times. Bromine has the same bacteria killing properties as chlorine but performs better in hot water, making it ideal for spas and heated pools. Bromine levels should be kept at 2.0 – 4.0 ppm. It’s important to note that sanitizers work best when the alkaline, pH and calcium hardness levels are balanced.
Furthermore, special treatments in form of super-chlorination and Flocculent treatment is necessary for a hygienic pool. Super-chlorination is a shock treatment where the pool is treated with an excess dosage of chlorine to kill algae, bacteria and cleanse dirt and any other organic matter that can gradually build up in the pool. It also clears the pool water and removes smell from the system. The level of Chlorine in this process is increased up to 10 – 15 ppm and maintained for 4 – 6 hours. On the other hand, an environmental condition like sand storm, or poor filtration, can lead to an increase of suspended particles in the pool water. The water in this case becomes turbid because the filtration system is failing to filter the water effectively. The Flocculent treatment is then applied to act as an additional filter aid to increase the efficiency of the filtration system. Particles that are too small to be caught by the filter make the pool water cloudy. Flocculant effectively removes them by clumping them together into bigger particles, making them fall to the bottom of the pool where they can be removed by a vacuum.
Understanding the three Cs is the only sure way of caring for and making swimming pool waters clear, clean and hygienic. Swimming pool technicians should be fully armed with proper knowledge of pool maintenance are they to deliver complete, satisfactory pool services and solutions.