Ideally, here are the maintenance tasks a homeowner or hired servicer should do once or twice per week to maintain a clean, cloudy-free, and algae-free swimming pool / spa:
- Check pH levels
- Brush walls, steps, and benches
- Net visible debris
- Check vacuum for debris; clean if necessary
- Clean debris out of skimmer
- Check water pump for debris; clean if necessary
- Check filter PSI; clean if necessary
- Your swimming pool filter should typically operate at a certain PSI (pounds per square inch). When the PSI on your filter spikes 10-12 PSI, it is time to do a quick clean on your filter. This process varies depending on the type of filter you have, so please consult an expert before doing this yourself. It is also wise to do a filter breakdown, a thorough, deep clean of the filter, approximately once a year.
- Check Chlorine levels; adjust if necessary
Most Common Maintenance Mistake
While chlorine is a really useful chemical for swimming pool / spa maintenance, many homeowners apply excessive amounts of chlorine to their swimming pool. Although one might think high doses of chlorine will help remove or prevent algae in the water, the high concentration of chemicals easily damages the plaster of the swimming pool and spa. Try to keep your chemicals in the acceptable levels explained to you by a swimming pool maintenance professional.
Most Overlooked Maintenance Item
Most people understand that to keep their swimming pool and spa looking great they have to regularly maintain their filter, water chemistry, and vacuum the interior surface of their pool. But when was the last time you inspected your decking mastic?
Mastic is the rubbery material that covers an isolation joint separating the coping of your pool from your decks. See the diagram below. Its purpose is to allow the decks to move independently of the swimming pool structure, thus minimizing the potential for damage to the pool tile, coping, and structural shell. Mastic also prevents water from going down the joint and under the decks when it rains, or water splashes out of the pool from swimmers.
With time and exposure, mastic loses it's elasticity and cracks. Once the mastic has cracked it no longer seals out water and you run the risk of saturating the soil beneath the decks. This can cause your decks to raise and crack more than normal, leaving you with elevation differences between your pool coping and the decks.
Mastic replacement is relatively inexpensive compared to the alternative of damaged decking. Do-it-yourselfers can find replacement products online or at their local pool supply stores and the internet is full of good "How To" videos. Or, if you'd rather just hire someone to do it, there are many small companies that perform this service.
Whatever you do, don't overlook this small maintenance item, because ignoring it could create expensive damage to you beautiful outdoor resort.
Draining and Refilling Your Swimming Pool
Traditionally, in order to keep a well-maintained swimming pool and spa, homeowners are recommended to drain and refill the structures every 3-5 years. This has typically been necessary because of chemical build-up in the water, which makes it less healthy to swim in.
Unfortunately, though, draining and refilling a swimming pool and/or spa is a quick way to waste thousands of gallons of water throughout your swimming pool's lifetime. As California heads into its 4th year of severe drought, hard restrictions against draining and refilling a swimming pool / spa are popping up statewide.
But the experts at California Pools have discovered a solution that can help you and your swimming pool / spa continue to conserve water: Bio-Active. Bio-Active is a product that reduces levels of Cyanuric Acid in your swimming pool water without draining and refilling. Consider using this to keep your water healthy and fresh, we can work together to conserve water!
To learn more about conserving water, please continue to browse our website. Much of our information comes from the California Pool & Spa Association who are hosting the Let's Pool Together campaign partnered with the Save Our Water campaign.
Swimming Pool / Spa Leaks
But then, you notice that you're refilling your pool a lot more often than usual. Regularly severe decreases in water levels can be the first sign that you have a leak somewhere in your swimming pool system. But there can be a variety of causes, so here are a few tests you can do at home before calling a trusted professional:
1. The Bucket Test
Before making the assumption that you have a leak in your swimming pool, it is best to rule the other factors that could be causing lower water levels. One is excess splash-out, but if you don't have several kids regularly splashing about in the swimming pool / spa quite yet, it could be higher evaporation levels. The hotter our weather, the more rapidly our water evaporates.
To test this, you can place a bucket on the second or third swimming pool step. Fill it with some water and mark the current water level with a marker or piece of tape both inside and outside the bucket. After 24-48 hours, check the bucket and measure how far the water has decreased both inside and outside the bucket. If the water level decrease is the same for both, your swimming pool does not have a leak. Congratulations! But if the water level of the swimming pool (outside the bucket) has decreased significantly more than the water level inside the bucket, you most likely have a leak somewhere in your swimming pool / spa system.
2. The Filter Test
Sometimes, leaks are in the plumbing system of the pool. To rule out this cause, you can test your swimming pool's water level changes with the filter on and off. Again, it is a good idea to use tape as a marking tool so you can measure the water level change accurately. Compare the water level decreases in your swimming pool depending on the filter's activity. If your swimming pool get significantly lower when the filter and equipment is running, your leak is probably located in the plumbing.
If that's the case, it is a good idea at this point to call a trusted swimming pool professional, such as California Pools, so they can determine the cause more specifically. Also, try to examine your equipment area more closely, feeling and looking for wet areas on the pipes and the ground. If you find something unusual, report it to the swimming pool professional. However, if there is no difference in the water levels with the equipment running or not, you may have a crack or tear in the swimming pool shell.
3. The Dye Test
Often times, this is easier for a swimming pool professional to do this test so that you do not have to be underwater for hours looking for cracks and tears in the vinyl, tile, or other material. But if you prefer looking yourself, try to examine the shell of the pool very closely. Once you see a crack or tear, take an eye-dropper of pH testing solution or any safe colored liquid and release it near the crack. If the dye is suctioned into the crack / tear, you've a source to your leak! If not, keep looking or call a trusted swimming pool contractor to investigate further.
While these tests are simple enough to do at home, do not hesitate to call your swimming pool contractor / specialist at the first sign of a leak. Also, if you think you've found the source, it is better to trust a swimming pool professional to fully investigate anyway, in case there is more than one cause for your leaking swimming pool / spa.