So it’s here…summer weather! Hot and sticky, but with a pool in the backyard you are ready to beat the heat and enjoy a lot of fun sun-filled days. To ensure the most enjoyable experience for years to come, there is more to think about than floaties, goggles and a supply of pool towels for the kids.
4 Pool Components that Require Care and Attention
Just like homes, every pool is different. Some pools are big and some pools are small. Some pools have heaters, remote pool covers or high-tech lighting. Whether you have a basic backyard pool or complex system, every pool has four components that require regular care and attention.
1. pool water – keeping the pool water clean, clear, and balanced protects you and your family from contaminants and pollutants and also helps avoid costly hardware repairs due to corrosion or mineral build-up, and helps your whole pool last longer.
2. pool liner – the walls of your pool liner are in constant contact with pool water, and everything that enters it. Keeping these surfaces in good repair, and clear of algae, mold, and debris, will help keep your pool clean and safe.
3. filter system – the pool pump keeps your water circulating and the pool filter clears dirt and other contaminants from the pool water. The pump and the filter system keep your pool from becoming cloudy and polluted. Depending on your setup, you may have a cartridge filter, a sand filter, a diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filter. Or, if you have a salt water system, a salt water chlorinator.
4. skimmers and returns – the pool skimmers pull water into the filter for cleaning, while the returns push the cleaned water back into your pool. To work best, they need to be clean and clear of obstructions.
Over time you will have pool maintenance challenges specific to your pool system and your understanding of the roles of these four pool components will help manage most maintenance challenges.
6 Care Tips When You Open Your Pool for the Season
Here are 6 basic tips to help you care for your pool and equipment when you are opening it for the season.
1. Filter Canister
Before installing your filtration system for the year, clean out the filter canister whether its sand, DE, or cartridge.
2. Pump and Motors
Check all pump and motors, plug in and make sure they operate before completing installation and assembly to the system.
3. Multiport Valve
If part of filtration assembly, make sure your multiport valve operates smoothly and easily moving to each position on the valve.
4. Pool Cover Removal
When removing pool cover, make sure you wash and let dry before folding and storing. This will insure it’s protected and ready for the next end of season install.
Check for leaks especially around skimmer areas, also check skimmer equipment for operation (baskets, weir doors).
6. Pool Heater
If you have a pool heater (gas or propane) make sure there is no insect webbing in the gas burner tubes and nozzles of the heater. This is a common problem for heaters not igniting. Some choose as a precaution to remove this part of the heater and store in a plastic bag in the garage or shed in the off season.
The best way to experience the fewest headaches is your approach to pool maintenance. Just like your vehicle, your swimming pool needs regular maintenance to be at its best. Understanding pool maintenance essentials, how your pool works, and the best way to care for it, helps you better plan for ownership and more easily remedy a potential pool problem that surfaces.
5 Things to Consider if You Are Thinking About Installing a Pool or Improving on a Present System
If you are thinking about installing a pool or improving on a present system, here is some information to help decide on the type of pool that may be best for you and your family as well as the pros and cons on types of equipment, filtering, heating and chemical treatments to help you make your decision.
1. Pool Types:
Above Ground or In-Ground Pools
Above Ground Pools:
- Vary in size and shape
- Most economical to afford
- These pools are available in either Gunite (Cement) style or Steel Paneled Vinyl Liner
- Gunite Pools can easily range $10,000 to $15,000 more than steel backed vinyl pools of the same size
Gunite or Vinyl
Gunite Pools Pools can be molded different shapes and sizes to accommodate your yard. It is also costly to install.
Build Time can be months
Surface is rough
Can discolor or Crack
Somewhat incompatible with salt system
Vinyl Pools can be installed in a few weeks and the cost is much more affordable than gunite
Can be used with multiple chemicals
Less costly to replace or repair liner
3. Filtration Systems:
Cartridge, Sand or DE
I. Cartridge Systems
Cartridge Filter Pros:
- Easy and simple systems paper cartridge exchange when dirty
- Best for smaller vinyl type above ground pools
- Least expensive
Cartridge Filter Cons:
- Filter will need replacement more often than cleaning a Diatomaceous earth or sand style filter.
- Need to disassemble the filter in order to replace paper cartridge.
- Cartridge systems normally do not have drain systems
II. Sand Systems
Sand System Pros:
- Easiest to clean does not require disassemble
- Sand can last up to 5-6 years
- Cleans up to 3 microns
Sand System Cons:
- Replacement of sand is Work Intensive
- Does not filter as well as DE systems
- Sand filtration must be backwashed often
III. DE Systems (Diatomaceous Earth)
DE Systems Pros:
- Best filtration 2-3 microns
- No need to backwash for months
- Grids last for many years
DE Systems Cons:
- Most expensive
- Will lose earth material when backwashing
- Filter must be disassembled and cleaned every season
4. Pool Chemical Treatments:
Chlorine or Salt Water
Chlorine – Pros:
- Start up is inexpensive Tablets/Liquid and Testing Equipment (Depending on the size of the pool) Cost $100 -$300
- Doesn’t require electricity to operate
- Controlling chemicals can be remotely installed to control chemical levels
- Will not corrode or damage such as liners and filter equipment.
Chlorine – Cons:
- Daily operational costs are high
- Chemicals will need to be added on a weekly basis, also require shocking more often
- Can cause dry and /or itching skin and red eye
- Fumes from chlorine are dangerous
Salt Water – Pros:
- Pool salt is inexpensive and recycles on its own
- Maintaining is easy and virtually maintenance free
- Water feels softer and it is not harmful to skin, eyes or hair
- No dangerous fumes
Salt Water – Cons:
- Initial Cost of investment is high ($1000 – $2500)
- Requires electric to run the generating cell
- Salt Water may cause corrosion to equipment and or liner
5. Pool Heaters:
Solar, Electric or Gas
Solar Heaters – Pros:
- Environment friendly
- Low Run Cost
- 15-20 year lifespan
- May be eligible for tax credit
Solar Heaters – Cons:
- Expensive to install
- Longer time to heat pool
- Dependent of the sun
- Required space – 70%-120% of the pools space area
Electric Heaters Pros:
- Somewhat energy efficient
- Environmentally friendly
- Lower monthly cost
Electric Heaters – Cons:
- Expensive Installation
- Air temperature needs to at least 55 degrees to start to become effective
- Expensive to the fact it takes longer to heat the pool area as to other heaters
Gas Heaters – Pros:
- Relativity Inexpensive to purchase
- Does not require any environmental conditions to operate efficiently
- Heats quickly
Gas Heater – Cons:
- Not as energy efficient
- Not as environmentally friendly
- Expensive to run
These pool care tips, suggestions for care and attention, along with possible upgrade suggestions can help you experience and enjoy your backyard pool for years to come! Whether you have a basic backyard pool or complex system, a little attention and planning will yield summer fun-filled days. Happy Summer!