Spring Cleaning for your Pool

clean-poolIt’s that time of year again. Time to get your pool ready for another hot summer. If you are like me, you get a pro to do all this work so you can relax and enjoy that refreshing water.

If you need a good, dependable pool service, here’s a couple of the best in the Tampa Bay area;

Evolution Pool Service
Jose Cuenca

Clear Choice Pool Service
Brent Duckworth

If you want to do all the work yourself, and just need to know how – here’s what you do to get your swimming pool in perfect shape for the summer.

1. Don’t Empty Your Pool
That’s because draining the pool can lift it right out of the ground without the weight of the water holding it down, especially in areas with high water tables – like Florida.

2. Clean It Up
Start the process of clean up with the filtration system, cleaning out all the baskets, and removing any plugs that you put in when the pool closed last year. For now, leave the cover (if you have one) on the pool while you’re working on it.

3. Top It Off
If the water level has fallen over the winter, top it off. Make sure to clean the filter before you turn it on. Clean a cartridge filter by removing the cartridge and wash with a hose. If you have a D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) filter, you might need to take it apart, clean it, and reassemble it. If you have a sand filter, set the filter to backwash, which will clean the sand. Then turn it to the normal setting.

4. Test Your Water
Take a water sample to a swimming pool store like Pinch-A-Penny and they’ll test the water for you, usually for free. It’s a good idea because they’ll do a complete test,” he says. “They’ll test the mineral content of the water, along with the total alkalinity and the pH and the chlorine levels.” They’ll tell you which needs to be adjusted and by how much.

5. Balance Chemicals
Time for some chemistry, based on your pool pro’s analysis. Here are the recommendations:

PH levels between 7.2 to 7.4. The pH level dictates how much chlorine turns into hypochlorous acid in the water. Use soda ash to increase pH; muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate to decrease.

Total alkalinity from 80 to 120. Alkalinity is a pH buffer—pH levels will be consistent if the alkalinity level is correct. Use sodium bicarbonate to increase alkalinity, muriatic acid to decrease it.

Calcium hardness from 150 ppm to 250 ppm (parts per million). This is directly dependent on the hardness of the water. The softer the water, the more calcium it will absorb from its environment. If you don’t put calcium in the water, it will take it from the grout in the tiles. Adjust the calcium hardness by using calcium chloride.

Chlorine from 1 ppm to 3 ppm. A popular product for backyard in-ground pools are cyanuric-based tablets (looks like large white hockey pucks). Cyanuric acid inhibits the sun’s ability to burn off chlorine.

You can put the tablets in your skimmer baskets, but their low acid content means they’ll eat metal—a problem if your pool has a metal filter system or a heater with a copper heat exchanger. So experts recommend getting a plastic chlorinator, which attaches to the filter system. Get a pro to hook this up.

6. Wait for Water to Clear
Don’t dive in yet. The filter has to be cleaned every day until the water is clear. Expect the entire process to take about a week. You may have to add chlorine to keep it at the right level. Only when the water is clear and you can see the pool floor should you remove the cover. Remove the cover too soon and you’ll end up with more leaves and pollen and debris to clean out.

7. Housekeeping
After you’ve removed the cover, time to vacuum any leaves or debris from the bottom.

8. Maintain
For the rest of the season, keep the filter clean, vacuum the pool each week, and test the chemical levels every day. Experts advise having a pro test the water once a month.

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