Take inventory of your pool cleaning supplies and make sure you have everything you need. The first thing you'll want is a telescopic pole since most cleaning accessories attach to the pole. Next would be a leaf net, also called a leaf skimmer (not to be confused with the skimmer in your pool wall). You will also want a pool brush to scrub the walls and floor. And finally, a vac head and hose are essential if you don't have an automatic pool cleaner. These are the basic accessories needed to clean your pool.
For proper pool maintenance, it is recommended that you brush the walls and floor of the pool once a week. Pay particular attention to any areas that have poor water circulation. You can purchase brushes in different widths that attach to the end of a telescopic pole, or a brush that comes complete with a pole already attached. Pool brushes can also be used to clean your deck and patio.
Use a vac head attached to a telescopic pole or run your automatic pool cleaner to collect debris. Be sure to get the correct the vac head or cleaner for your pool type as they are designed differently based on the surface of the pool (vinyl liner, fiberglass or concrete). Use a brush to manually clean any tight or angled spots that the cleaner may miss.
Your pool filter collects fine debris and microscopic particles to keep the water clear. The filter should run at least 8 - 10 hours per day. Proper filter maintenance will ensure it performs optimally. For cartridge filters, the cartridge element can be removed and cleaned by pressure washing inside and out with a garden hose. If cleaned regularly, the cartridges should last one to two pool seasons depending on pool usage. Sand and D.E. filters must be backwashed periodically to rid them of clogging dirt and debris. Backwashing reverses the water flow through the filter and directs it to the bottom of the tank, up through the filter media. This will flush accumulated dirt and debris out through the waste line. The general recommendation is to backwash your filter when the pressure reaches 10 psi over the initial start-up pressure.
In addition to backwashing, if you have a D.E. filter the grid elements should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year. Remove the grids according to the instructions in your owner's manual and hose them off with a forceful stream of water from a garden hose. Fill a large plastic container with warm water and add about a 1/2 cup of automatic dishwasher detergent. Soak the grids in this solution for about 3 - 4 hours. After soaking, rinse off the elements again before placing them back inside the filter. Be sure to replace any damaged or torn grids.
The last component to keeping your swimming pool clean is maintaining the proper chemical levels. It is very important to test your water regularly for two key factors: pH and sanitizers. By testing your water at least three times per week, you will begin to understand how bather load, weather (rain and sun) and chemical application affect pool water. Regular testing of pH and sanitizer levels will ensure crystal clear water all season long.
It is vital that proper pH is maintained in your pool at all times. If the pH is outside 7.2 to 7.6, it will greatly reduce the effectiveness of pool chemicals. Use either pH reducer or pH increaser to bring the pH into the proper range. If you are finding it difficult to maintain your pH, check your total alkalinity and be sure it is in the ideal range. Adjust total alkalinity levels accordingly.
Sanitizing chlorine tablets are the most efficient sanitizer to use in your pool. These specially compressed tablets are designed to dissolve slowly and steadily release free chlorine into your water to wipe out bacteria and keep your water clean. Be sure to use stabilized chlorine which withstands the sun's damaging rays, making it last longer and work more effectively. Always keep tablets in your skimmer, floater, or automatic feeder to continue sanitizing.
As debris builds up in the water (such as perspiration, urine, suntan oil, and hair spray), it can cause eye and skin irritation and dull water. These contaminants tie up chlorine, keeping it from effectively sanitizing the water. When this occurs, it is time to add shock to your pool. Pool shock, available in either chlorine or non-chlorine formulas, oxidizes contaminants and frees up the chlorine to keep your pool crystal clear. Weekly pool shock treatments will also kill resistant algae in the water. To prevent algae from forming in the first place, include a weekly treatment of algaecide.