Cleaning the pool is one of those jobs that usually falls somewhere at the bottom of people’s to-do lists. But come summer we’re betting that you’ll want a clean pool to jump into. What’s the point of having one if it’s full of leaves and dirt? Short of forking out for a pool maintenance person to do the job, here’s what you need to do keep it in tip-top condition.
Figuring out the best way to keep your pool clear of leaves and dirt will depend on what type of pool you have – in-ground or above-ground. The size of the pool, filtration system, plumbing and how much you want to spend, all need to be taken into account too.
For instance, if you only have a small pool then the cheapest option is DIY cleaning with a hand vacuum. This is attached to your skimmer box for suction, and you push it around manually on the end of a pole. Once a week is the recommended cleaning time.
If your pool is largish, or you’d rather not waste your precious weekend cleaning it, then a mechanical pool cleaner like a creepy crawly is another option. Again this attaches to your skimmer box for suction, but it cleans the pool by inertia covering the floor and walls in a random pattern. They are good for pools with curved walls but may take a while to cover the whole area. Geared suction cleaners also use suction but are quicker as they move in a predetermined pattern and can get into tight corners.
Another faster, but more expensive, type of pool cleaner is the pressure cleaner which can clear fine sand, rocks, and leaves and reach into tight corners. Robotic cleaners are more expensive still and you’ll need a power point close by but these are good for large pools.
Keep in mind that any type of cleaner that has a lot of moving parts will need more maintenance than one that doesn’t.
How to Keep the Water Clean & Safe?
The Australian health department recommends keeping your pool water chemically sanitised and pH balanced to avoid bacterial infections. Most domestic pool owners use chlorine, but other options include ionisation, bromine, UV sterilisation and ozone gas. You can add chlorine by hand, install a liquid chemical feeder or install a salt chlorinator (the most common form).
Monitoring the pH levels is important as the wrong chemical balance can cause red eyes and itchy skin. For Australian pools, the pH standard is 7.0 to 7.8 with somewhere in between being ideal. When there are a lot of people using the pool then monitoring the pH level every day is recommended.
Checking the alkalinity and calcium hardness of the water is also important but doesn’t need to be tested as frequently as the pH level. Low alkalinity can cause pool equipment to corrode and erosion of pool surfaces. Likewise, too much calcium can corrode pool equipment and create scale. But if you’re in an area where calcium levels aren’t high then once a year is sufficient for testing.
Get a basic ‘four-in-one’ test from your local pool shop or order one online for checking chlorine levels, total alkalinity, and pH, as well as the level of acid needed to rebalance the pH. There are also electronic testers that you can submerge in the water, and the results come up on a digital display. These are more expensive but less hassle so you can spend more time enjoying the pool rather than analysing it!