OK, so you bought an above ground swimming pool. You have decided what size and where to put it and either paid some somewhat sketchy guys to come install it or worse, you and your spouse did it yourselves. Now it’s in your yard full of water and looking good. So what now?
Just like everything you have in your life that’s an extra, swimming pools need this annoying thing called “maintenance”. This means you can’t just enjoy it while it is nice and clean and clear. You’ll also have to pay the price of keeping it that way and that price includes a weekly dose of chemicals, cleaning, and a daily dose of electricity. I could write a really big book on how to take care of a swimming pool, but this is just a blog post so I’ll try to keep it short.
This may sound obvious, but once your above ground is full, plug in the pump and turn it on to make sure it works. Make sure water is flowing back well to the pool. After it turns on, leave it on and either take a sample of the pool’s water to your new favorite pool store so they can test the water and sell you a bunch of chemicals (most of which you probably don’t need) or test the water yourself. Using test strips is the new way all the cool kids now test pool water, so get a bottle of strips.
If you took a water sample to the pool store, bring back all the bottles and containers of stuff and start following the directions for applying all those chemicals to the pool. Be happy about it. You just paid to have a professional tell you what to do chemically to start your pool. Even if he were only 18 years old. If you tested the pool yourself, then use whatever they gave you in the pool’s start-up kit and begin your journey of learning about pool water chemistry.
Regardless of who tests your water or what the test says, I say shock the pool right off. Real life definition for SHOCK: The term “shock” simply means adding a whole lot of chlorine (or other sanitizers) to a body of water in a really short period of time. Even if the initial chlorine level is pretty high coming out of your hose, shock the pool anyway. You want to show that pool water who is boss right off. If the pH is off, you can adjust that too if you want.
Now unwrap your manual pool cleaning gear and teach yourself how to vacuum the pool. If you have a timer (and you should), set it for about eight hours daily during the day. Read up on any add-ons you may have gotten with the pool package and plug them in or add the required salt to get those things going.
Congratulations, you now started up your pool. You can now throw the kids in and relax for about six days until it’s time to service the pool again.
So this weekly maintenance thing isn’t for everyone. Those with the money who can find a pool service guy who will do an above ground pool won’t have things to do weekly. They’ll instead have to write a check to the pool guy once a month. Oops, I meant pay online with your debit card (who still writes checks?).
Back to reality… So, many have asked me, “Do I really have to maintain the pool every week?” And my sarcastic answer is, “Well, no. Not if you’re OK with the water turning cloudy and then green every once in a while.” For you new pool owners reading this, do yourselves a favor and just make it a habit of giving your pool attention at least once a week especially in the summer months. Bringing a green pool back to a clear and healthy state can be tricky and expensive. So just stay on top of it. ‘K?
Test the water once a week (preferably on the same day). In the summer, you’ll more than likely have to add something to the pool every week including probably shocking it. While you are at it, skim, brush, and vacuum the pool too. Even if it doesn’t look like it needs it. Cleaning the pool once a week will make it easier when you really do need the pool to be clean and will also make you feel better about your pool during the week. Also, while you’re at it, empty the skimmer and pump baskets and do a quick check of your equipment to make sure everything looks good and it’s clear of weeds and ants under the pump motor. Drain or add some water to the pool, if needed.
It may be a pain when you think about maintaining your pool, but you’ll feel great when you’re finished and the pool is clean and properly chemically fed. I promise.
Monthly Maintenance: What to Do
Now about every four or five times you are doing your weekly pool maintenance (which is about once a month, duh!), you’ll want to clean your pool’s filter. Well, you may not want to, but do it anyway. If it’s a sand filter, backwash. If it is a cartridge type, pull it out and spray it clean and replace. For a DE type, backwash and replace with new DE.
In addition to this monthly service, check any equipment add-ons you may have. If you have a salt chlorine generator, then check the salt level and check to see if it’s time to clean the cell (which is usually cleaned every three or four months). Check out your ionizer or Ozonator or mineralizer to see their working status. If they aren’t working well, don’t worry about them. They’re not that great anyway. Just kidding (not really). Also, lubricate all of your O-rings.
So, that’s about it. Do these things and you’ll like your pool better. If your pool gets excessively dirty or takes more chemicals than usual, you may have to do twice a week maintenance during the hotter months. Lots of leaves? Empty the basket and skim that puppy every day if you have to. Always lots of swimmers and rainy weather? Test the water and treat more often. Do it, ’cause you really have no choice anyway. It’s called maintenance and your pool needs it.