Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a source of great fun and relaxation and of indescribable frustration – a swimming pool. Now is payback for all those times you jumped into someone else’s pool without a care in the world, taking for granted their painstaking cleaning, their delicate balancing of chemicals, their equipment repairs. . . but relax, you can just enjoy your pool the majority of the time and here are some tips to make pool ownership a snap.
You know how you wish all of your tax documents were organized in one folder come April of every year? Well, think of your pool paperwork in the same light and you will make the process of equipment identification, repair and warranty much easier. For a new pool, be sure to file all receipts, manuals, etc in a safe yet easy-to-find place. If you just purchased a home with an existing pool, see if the original homeowner can provide any of the above. I can’t even count how many customers we speak to who just bought pool homes and can find little to no identifying information on any of the equipment. This can present real challenges so treat as precious any documentation you do have.
In this digital age, snapping and saving a few key photos can also spare you huge pool headaches. Sure, all of your bright and shiny equipment labels might be readable now but wait until the sun and rain have worked on them for a few seasons. Fast forward several years, you need some parts and find yourself laying down next to your pump with a magnifying glass trying to read a barely discernible model number – is that a “5” or an “S”? To avoid this, take digital photos of each piece of equipment as well as close-ups of the data plates on your pump housing, pump motor, filter, valves, heater, salt system, cleaner. . . pretty much any pool gear that has a readable label. With this information, you will be able to quickly identify and order the parts you need two, three, even ten years down the road. This information can also be very useful should you ever need to file a warranty claim with a manufacturer as they typically require serial and model numbers.
A pool owner doesn’t have to become a technician but if you have a basic understanding of how a pool works, you will be less frustrated (and less subject to being swindled) when you encounter a problem. Believe me, if you have any body of water big or small in your backyard, you will at some point encounter a problem. Some great resources are our How To Guides and one of my personal favorites, the Trouble Free Pool forum. Basic knowledge will give you enough confidence to raise an eyebrow when a pool company tells you that you need to replace your whole pump or filter for only $1,500.00 . . . plus labor.
Being familiar with basic pool calculations such as surface area, volume, and gallons per minute is also helpful. You can find a lot of helpful information on our Calculations page.
It would be nice if you could just throw in some chlorine and walk away, but pools do require more in-depth, regular maintenance. On your weekly schedule should be testing the water and making necessary adjustments. Keep in mind that while sanitizer (chlorine) is very important, you need to adjust for pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness also. Cyanuric acid (CYA) is another important level to keep an eye on; this serves as sunscreen for your chlorine which is easily depleted by UV rays from the sun.
Chemicals alone will not maintain a pool so add to your schedule weekly brushing / vacuuming as well as regularly cleaning your filter and clearing debris from the pump and skimmer baskets.
If you don’t have the time, desire or ability to exert the above elbow grease, then you should hire a pool company to maintain your pool regularly. Poor maintenance leads to big problems – improper water chemistry, pool stains, algae blooms, equipment damage or failure. What you invest in maintaining your pool now will save you time and money later.
Another thing to familiarize yourself with is pool diverter valves. These are plumbing valves that allow you to easily adjust water flow. Diverter valves have either 2 or 3 ports and a handle on top that switches flow from one line to another or just limits flow by partially closing one of the ports.
When it comes to pool maintenance, diverter valves are used to draw debris from different places. Setting them to the skimmer will pull debris from the surface of the pool while setting them to the main drain will pull from the pool floor. Leaving diverter valves in the half open position will draw debris from both, splitting the available suction between the two locations.
How you use these valves will depend on the specific plumbing set-up of your pool. For instance, if you have two skimmers, you can limit flow to the one closest to the pump so that the further skimmer has more suction. For more details about these important valves, check out this How To Guide.
You can head off at the pass many pool problems just by being observant. Most pool equipment and parts wear over time and will show signs of their impending doom. Keeping an eye on your equipment and pool could be the difference between replacing a $15.00 seal and a $300.00 motor. Pay attention to any leaks at the equipment. Listen for unusual sounds. Make sure your water level is correct. Again, you don’t need to be a technician – you just need to know when to call one and sooner is always better. If you’re feeling brave and want to get into the DIY game, feel free to give us a call at 877-372-6038 for help with troubleshooting and parts.