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When preparing for the upcoming season, many pool owners and operators make the mistake of leaving everything to the last minute. Procrastination is a common habit in various aspects of people’s lives, from shopping to changing light bulbs. However, when it comes to cleaning the pool, it is extremely important to take care of every mechanism and component that ensures clean water all summer long. Skimmer lids, skimmer baskets, main drain covers, return jets and other visible items are essential for maintenance. But it’s also critical to inspect the equipment in the pump station, including the filters, pumps, electrical panels, pipes and valves, to prevent any problems during the swimming season. In many ways, the operation of a swimming pool can be compared to that of a car.

We all know that a car needs to be maintained regularly to prevent it from breaking down. Similarly, in the case of the pool, it is important to check the pump, bearings and other parts to avoid any problems. Cleaning and checking the filter are also important to prevent cloudy water or improper pool operation. Changing the valve (tyres in the case of the car) of the pool is necessary to prevent leaks, clogs and pump failures. Balancing water chemistry is essential for a clean and clear pool. The main challenge we face in pool maintenance is achieving the right water chemistry balance. Although many people associate chlorine with pool cleaning, it only kills bacteria and microorganisms. Maintaining the correct pH balance of the pool water is actually what makes crystal clear water. Achieving the right water chemistry balance is therefore essential.

Conducting regular water tests for seven essential elements is extremely important. These include:

  • Free chlorine – the chlorine that is present in the pool to kill bacteria
  • Total chlorine – the total amount of chlorine in the pool
  • Combined chlorine – this is the harmful chlorine in the pool that needs to be removed. It is calculated by the formula “Total chlorine minus free chlorine = combined chlorine”
  • pH – the ratio between the acidity and basicity of the pool water, with an acceptable range of 7.2 to 7.8 and a preferred range of 7.4 to 7.6
  • Alkalinity – this is the ability of water to resist changes in pH. Alkalinity acts as an anchor for pH, so it is important to ensure proper alkalinity and hence maintain pH more easily
  • Calcium hardness – calcium is the only desirable mineral in water in the acceptable range of 200–400 ppm. Low calcium levels are corrosive and high calcium levels lead to scale formation
  • Cyanuric acid – this acid (stabilizer) is essential in swimming pools as its main purpose is to prevent chlorine from burning. High values lead to chlorine masking which means more chlorine is needed to ensure that the bacteria killing process works properly. In cyanuric acid testing, values between 30 and 50 ppm are acceptable. At values below 30 the chlorine will burn off and values above 50 ppm will negatively affect the chlorine resulting in the need for more chlorine which in turn will raise the cyanuric acid level as most chlorine used (trichlor/dichlor, granules or tablets) contains cyanuric acid as part of its composition

Cleaning for the upcoming swimming season

When cleaning a swimming pool, especially during the swimming season, it is usually assumed that the only thing to do is to remove the dirt from the sides of the filter. However, pool cleaning also has many other aspects such as cleaning the walls to prevent algae growth. Any remaining spores should be removed, turned over and thoroughly cleaned. It is also important to clean around the lights and return outlets to make sure they are clean all the way to the bottom.

Vacuuming – this should be done slowly to clean the entire bottom.

If you’re in a hurry to finish the vacuuming, you may stir small debris in the water and not be able to clean everything. If the pool is dirty, vacuum up any debris so it doesn’t block the filter or pump.

Do not backwash the filter every time you use the vacuum cleaner. The manometer on the filter will tell you when it’s time to backwash. If you backwash too often, you will damage the filter material (sand or glass) rather than clean the pool.

Testing. The tests provide information on the current status of the water. The tests also provide guidance on what chemicals to add and how much to add to bring individual readings into an acceptable range. Chemicals should be added in the correct amounts after washing and backwashing (if necessary). No need to add too much or go overboard. This will not lead to more satisfactory results. It will only cost you extra money to fix the next time you test or balance the water.

Repeating the process. The best way to keep your pool clean and healthy is to repeat the process (daily if possible). The more you repeat the check, cleaning and treatment, the cleaner your pool will be. You’ll also find that repetition reduces the amount of work and stabilizes the water balance, making cleaning healthier and more satisfying.

Finally, the water must be balanced. It takes time and patience but having clean water will ensure that the rest of the system is functioning properly and you will have fewer problems during swimming season.

Water balance refers to the correct ratio of minerals and pH, which prevents corrosion and scale formation. Testing and balancing the pool water provide the saturation index to calculate the correct values and additives needed.

Pool water can turn green or change colour overnight but it will take several days to adjust it properly. Remember, prevention is better than cure, so we wish you a smooth swimming season.

 

 

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