Welcome to our indepth guide on pool maintenance for beginners. Why hire someone to maintain your pool when you can do it yourself? Well, if you have the money then by all means, go hire a pool expert to keep your swimming pool functioning perfectly, with perfectly balanced water. BUT, if you want to save some money and do your own maintenance then be assured that it’s not as complicated as you likely think it is. At the very least, this article will give you an overview of what’s required to keep your pool as it should be.
Welcome | Pool Maintenance For Beginners
If there’s one good thing that’s come out of the Covid19 pandemic so far, it has to be the economical explosion that’s hit the outdoor recreation industry. As of now, we’ve yet to see how this all plays out, but the amount of people spending time outside and enjoying themselves has increased exponentially in the last few years. Because of this, outdoor related products like trampolines, mountain bikes and even camping equipment have begun to fly off the shelf. And this is no less true for the pool industry. There are reports all over the internet of pool and spa stores selling out a season’s worth of product months earlier than planned. This means that supply shortages and related services are in short supply in many regions across North America, and quite possibly in other continents as well.
VIDEO | Pool Maintenance for Beginners
Whether or not any of this is affecting you or your region, taking the time to learn a little about your pool system or getting an idea of what maintaining a pool takes can save you a lot of stress. If you are looking into getting a system yourself, already have a pool, or simply want to get an idea of what maintenance backyard pools require, you’ve come to the right place.
Thankfully, the technology and principles pool systems rely on to keep their water clean and clear are actually quite simple. On the most basic level, pool systems are composed of two parts. A sanitizing agent that kills bacteria and organisms introduced by swimmers and debris, and a filter that removes particles from the water. Both of these components play a very vital role in keeping the water swimmable.
If the filtration system gets clogged or can’t keep up, small bits of debris build up and the water becomes cloudy. If this happens, the sanitizer can be depleted as it tries to neutralize the water. And if the sanitizer dips too low, organisms like algae and bacteria can fester and turn your beautiful blue lagoon into a stinking cesspool.
So, while maintaining any pool is technically as simple as keeping the sanitizer within the right range and keeping the filter clean, the whole process can feel more like trying to sanitize an ocean than a basic summer chore. And this is especially true for outdoor pools, where the amount of foreign contaminants waiting to enter the water is endless.
Before I ‘dive’ in and start breaking down and explaining these components, a short disclaimer. Maintaining pool systems (and especially chlorine systems) requires you to handle nasty and often dangerous chemicals. These chemicals can burn, bleach, or even poison you, so be sure to read labels and use common sense to protect yourself, and the swimmers of your pool.
The first step to getting setup requires you to determine which system is right for you. And with such a large variety of technologies on the market, this can be a confusing task. To help you decide, we’ll be going over the two most popular pool sanitizing systems: saltwater and chlorine. While these systems technically aren’t that different, the equipment required to support them are.
First off, let’s talk sanitizers. These wondrous substances are responsible for neutralizing any contaminants. Whether it be skin oils, raccoon feces or microorganisms, it’s the sanitizer’s job to prevent these things from building up and reaching toxic levels. However, depending on the sanitizer you choose, this will be accomplished in a variety of ways. For example, chlorine based systems function by oxidizing or chemically ‘burning’ contaminants, after which the chlorine is bound to the contaminant and it is effectively neutralized. Another popular sanitizer called biguanide, works by clumping contaminants together until they are large enough to be removed by the filter.
While these details are for the most part, trivial, understanding how they work can help to diagnose problems later on.
Table of Contents...
- 1 Welcome | Pool Maintenance For Beginners
- 1.1 Sanitizer Upkeep and Chemistry | Swimming Pool
- 1.2 What chemicals are needed for a balanced pool?
- 1.3 Stabilizers / Pool Water
- 1.4 How to add Chemicals
- 1.5 Chlorine Downsides
- 1.6 Saltwater Pools
- 1.7 Overview | Pool Maintenace
- 1.8 Sources / Bibliography
- 1.9 Related posts:
Sanitizer Upkeep and Chemistry | Swimming Pool
In order for sanitizers to remain effective, a variety of parameters must be kept in check. These parameters typically include PH and concentration, but there are usually more depending on the sanitizer. PH is especially important, and must also be kept in check to prevent damage to pool equipment. Concentration is also critical, because this quite literally measures how much sanitizer is in the water.
The first step to maintaining these levels is to know exactly where they are at. To find this out, an analysis of your water chemistry is needed. And like most things here, there’s more than one way to go about this. The most reliable method is professional testing which requires you to collect a sample of water and bring it into your local pool store. While this is undoubtedly the most accurate way to go, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and overly exhaustive. Instead, most people end up going with chemical test kits or test strips. Both test kits and strips are cost effective and accurate enough for basic upkeep, although kits that require you to take actual samples tend to be a bit better.
All things considered, the best route to go is a hybrid between home testing and professional testing. While using commercially available testing kits is quick and easy, and accurate enough for you to keep basic parameters in check, getting your water tested professionally once a month provides a very in depth and reliable analysis of more than just the basics. Most professional pool testers will test for other contaminants such as metals, that can potentially stain your pool liner. While you can certainly get away with just home testing, taking that extra step can help extend the life of your system, ensure consistent water quality, and help eliminate otherwise unknown factors.
As for home testing, here are the kits we recommend :
- JNW Direct Pool and Spa Test Strips
- Poolmaster Essential Collection Chemistry Case / 22260
- TAYLOR TECHNOLOGIES INC / K-2006
- Poolmaster / 4-Way Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Strips / 22211
Chlorine is by far the most popular sanitizer and has been for a very long time. That’s not to say this isn’t deserved though, as conventional chlorine offers the best compromise between effectiveness, ease of use, cost, and versatility. Still, it isn’t without its drawbacks.
Unfortunately, in conventional chlorine systems, chlorine levels aren’t the only level you need to keep an eye on. Many other chemicals are used to protect both the pool equipment, and the sanitizer itself. Together, these chemicals will ensure that the water is stable and resilient to changes, so keeping them within their accepted ranges is also very important.
Here is a basic list of the chemicals that need to be kept in check. Where these levels are at determines how much chemicals you’ll need to add, and whether the levels need to be raised or lowered.
What chemicals are needed for a balanced pool?
The first parameter that needs to be set is alkalinity. Since this one is so closely related to pH (alkalinity concentration affects pH) it is important to have this in check before messing with your pH otherwise that’ll have to be adjusted twice. Alkalinity’s job is essentially to make pH less volatile (or less vulnerable) to change. It does this by reacting with contaminants that would otherwise change the pH. Ideally, this chemical is kept within the range of 100-150 PPM.
Fun Fact: Most products sold to increase alkalinity actual just use baking soda as the active ingredient. So, you can save some money here and use straight baking soda instead!
Once your pool’s alkalinity is adjusted, it’s time to look at pH. PH is measured on a scale of 0-14, with 7 being neutral. Anything less than 7 is considered acidic and anything above is basic. As far as pool water is concerned, most fluctuation happens within a small range (usually between 7 and 8). The number to aim for here is 7.5, although 7.4 – 7.6 is considered acceptable. The chemicals used to adjust this are sold as pH up and pH down, although pH up is really just soda ash. PH down is usually made from a chemical called sodium bisulphate or dry acid, as it’s sometimes called, although many people opt to use muriatic acid instead.
Stabilizers / Pool Water
On its own, chlorine is very susceptible to being destroyed by sunlight. In fact, direct sunlight is capable of destroying almost all of the chlorine in a pool in a matter of hours. As you can imagine, this does not lend to a very sustainable maintenance routine, since we need chlorine in the water all of the time. So, we use stabilizer.
Stabilizer (also known as CYA) drastically increases the time chlorine can stay present in the water. It does this by binding with free chlorines, after which the chlorines are a lot less vulnerable to the sun’s UV light. While chlorine is technically inhibited while bound to this new particle, the bonds holding it in place are relatively weak, which allows it to still show up on a free chlorine test. Additionally, the chlorine is free to detach and interact with contaminants as needed. Overall, the big benefit is that the chlorine sticks around much longer and is able to clean a lot more.
While stabilizer is an incredibly effective and necessary product, there are a few things to be wary of. The first has to do with stabilizer’s tendency to slowly ‘creep’ up over time. See, stabilizer is very unique in that it isn’t depleted naturally over time. It can do its job without being consumed, and the sun doesn’t break it down at all like chlorine. This means that the stabilizer you put in the water in the beginning of the season will also be there at the end, and unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much stabilizer. But still, this doesn’t explain how stabilizer levels can increase over time.
Many chlorine pool products nowadays contain what’s called stabilized chlorine. Simply put, this product is for people who’d rather not mess with another chemical. So, to get around having to use stabilizer alongside chlorine, manufacturers put stabilizer in with it. For the most part, this product works great and accomplishes what it’s supposed to, however it cannot be used alongside CYA. If it is, the stabilizer levels will build up over time and can eventually reach problematic levels. If this happens, you’ll soon be draining your pool partway and then diluting everything with fresh water. This costs time and money, so it’s best avoided.
Finally, it’s time to look at the most important chemical of your pool: chlorine. At the end of the day, this is really the only chemical that does anything to clean your water, and everything else is mainly there to back it up.
Like with all the other chemicals, you can’t set your chlorine levels without testing the water first. However, in doing this, you’ll soon find that chlorine concentration isn’t as simple as, say, alkalinity. This is because most test kits will give you two different chlorine readings: Free Chlorine (FC) and Total Chlorine (TC). Both will be measured in PPM, although the TC will always be the same or higher than FC. This is because total chlorine levels are a measurement of both free chlorine and combined chlorine.
VIDEO | Types of Chlorine for your Swimming Pool
While this sounds complicated, it really isn’t. Combined chlorine is actually just a term used to refer to ‘used up’ chlorine, or chlorine that has already combined with contaminants. Thus, it is no longer active, and is not considered when adjusting chlorine levels. This is where free chlorine comes in. Free chlorine is simply a measure of how much excess chlorine is in the water, or how much chlorine is available to neutralize contaminants. Another word for free chlorine is active chlorine. Ideally, this level should be kept right at three parts per million, although anywhere between 1 and 3 PPM is sufficient.
At this point, you might be wondering why test kits even provide a TC reading. After all this chlorine doesn’t do anything, right? Well, as it turns out, combined chlorine (which is the difference between TC and FC) is responsible for the smell we associate with swimming pools. That chlorine smell is actually due to the presence of chloramines, which is a large component of combined chlorine. When combined chlorine levels get too high, your pool water can become irritating and smelly, and this is not a good sign. Fortunately, there is a very simple way to ‘reset’ the chlorine in your pool, and convert it from combined chlorine to free chlorine: pool shocking.
Poolshock is essentially a highly concentrated dose of ordinary, unstabilized chlorine. These products are sold in small, single use bags, and should contain around 60% calcium hypochlorite. This is a lot higher than ordinary pool chlorine, but this is exactly what’s needed to effectively shock your pool.
The whole point of pool shocking is to bring the concentration of chlorine way above ordinary levels. A proper shock should bring the chlorine concentration to around 5 – 10 PPM, after which your combined chlorine levels should have come back down.
In all, shocking your pool does two very important things. First off, such high concentrations kill nearly all organisms in the water, so shocking is a good way to wipe everything out of your pool and leave it completely sanitized. However, this is not the main reason to shock your pool. The bigger, more important purpose has to do with something called breakpoint chlorination.
Breakpoint chlorination refers to the concentration in which the free chlorine in your pool is able to overcome the demand, and begin to convert these harmful chloramines back into free chlorine. There’s a lot going on here that makes this whole process so effective and important, but most of this is trivial as far as home pools are concerned. All you need to know to effectively shock your pool is that this point called breakpoint chlorination sits about tens times higher than the combined chlorine levels. So in most cases, 5 – 10 PPM is sufficient, and this can easily be achieved by adding one pound (a bag) of pool shock for every 10000 gallons of water.
In those special cases when an ordinary shock just won’t cut it, a double or triple shock can be used. This means you’ll need 2 or 3 pounds of chlorine shock per every 10000 gallons of water.
VIDEO | Breakpoint Chlorination Explained
While it sounds fancy, calcium hardness really just refers to how much calcium is in the water. It really serves no sanitizing purpose, and doesn’t really interact at all with other chemicals. Fortunately, this means it is very stable and shouldn’t fluctuate much throughout a season. Because of this, you can get away with only setting it once at the beginning of the season, unless something happens to knock it up or down. But why do we need calcium in the water in the first place?
Many materials used in pools naturally contain calcium as part of their chemical makeup. And when water with a low calcium content comes in contact with these materials, the calcium can leech from the materials and into the water. This can result in corrosion and overall just decreases the lifetime of your pool. On the other hand, having too much calcium in your water can lead to unsightly deposits on pool liners and cause scaling on the inside of pipes.
To get around this, we need to have enough calcium in the water to prevent it from stealing from the pool materials, but not too much so that it starts to leave deposits behind. However, because different pool materials have different calcium contents, the ideal calcium hardness for your pool depends on what it’s made of.
A good rule of thumb is simply to base your calcium hardness off of the pool liner’s material. If you’ve got a vinyl or fiberglass liner, 175 – 225 PPM is sufficient, whereas concrete or plaster pools should sit between 200 – 275 PPM. This chemical can be set last because a day or two with low calcium isn’t likely to cause any noticeable damage. It’s long term exposure that’ll lead to issues.
VIDEO | How to Balance Calcium Hardness
Unfortunately, calcium hardness is another one of those chemicals that can’t be brought back down very easily. There’s no chemical called ‘calcium hardness decreaser’, or ‘calcium softener’, so the best and quickest solution is usually to just drain the pool part way and fill it back up with fresh water. Basically, you’ll want to avoid overshooting your calcium levels.
How to add Chemicals
Now, knowing the ins and outs of what each chemical does is useless if you don’t know how much to add, or even how to add it. Many people simply go by the instructions on the back of the container, but these tend to be vague, and leave plenty of room for human error. These instructions will usually go something like this: “broadcast 40g per 10000L daily, or as needed”. As you can imagine, simply tossing an approximate amount of a product into your pool probably won’t result in balanced chemistry. Rain, sunlight, swimmers, and debris are all things that need to be accounted for, so do your future self a favour and don’t follow these instructions.
Instead, use an online pool calculator. These websites (like Pool Calculator) are simple tools that consider the volume of your pool, the current chemical levels, and what chemicals you are using to calculate exactly how much to add of each one.
Poo Calculator is by far the most in-depth one we’ve found and quite possibly the most popular as well, but it’s not necessarily the most user-friendly. It does have quite a few extra options that can complicate things, so aquachek’s Water Balance Calculator may be a better option. However, both of these sites will require you to check the labels of your product to determine exactly what is in them.
The final thing you’ll need to know is the volume of your pool. This measurement is critical to know for all pool chemistry, because without it, concentration is nothing more than a number. Basically, you need to know how much water you’re dealing with.
To find out how much water your pool holds, we recommend visiting Swim University. Here you’ll find techniques and formulas that break down how to figure this out for yourself, as well as a chart that contains the volume of some common pool sizes.
Main Points :
- PH should be between 7.4 – 7.6
- Alkalinity should be between 100 – 150 PPM
- CYA should be between 30 – 50 PPM
- Chlorine between 1 – 3 PPM but ideally at 3
- Shocking should achieve 5 – 10 PPM and be done at dusk
- Dissolve chemicals first in a bucket, then distribute evenly across the water’s surface
As mentioned before, chlorine works by oxidizing contaminants in the water. Thus, chlorine is an oxidiser, and such chemicals aren’t known to be very compatible with most others. On the simplest level, oxidisers increase the flammability of certain substances, which isn’t desirable in a product meant to be stored and handled. For the most part, chlorine is safe to work with, however there are a few select materials to avoid. And just as a side note, I’m specifically referring to the dry, unstabilized variety of chlorine here.
The first chemical to keep far away from chlorine is brake fluid. Most automotive brake fluids contain glycol ethers, which react violently with pool chlorine. If these two come in contact, they’ll spontaneously burst into flames after a short delay.
The second common substance to keep far away from chlorine happens to be sugar. As innocent as sugar looks, all it needs is a little chemical help before it too, bursts into flames.
On top of being a mild fire hazard, pool chlorine can bleach clothing, burn your nostrils, and simply isn’t a fun chemical to handle regularly. If this is a deal breaker for you, you’re not alone.
There are many substitutes to ordinary chlorine systems but most alternatives sacrifice function in one way or another. Saltwater systems strike a near perfect balance here because they technically use chlorine, but without the dangers usually associated with it. If you’re looking for a system that’s completely chlorine free, look elsewhere. But for those looking for the best all around option, saltwater may be for you.
Parts of a Salt System
If you don’t know much about pool salt systems, the way they work can be a bit of a mystery. Contrary to what you might think, the salt itself is not actually what cleans the water. A better way to think about the salt is as a sort of reservoir, or backstock of chlorine that can be converted to its active form when needed.
If we look at salt’s scientific name, sodium chloride, we can see that salt does have chlorine in it. However, when dissolved in water this chlorine is in an inactive state. All it needs is a little zap from a chlorine generating cell to become that useful Free Chlorine, and Free Chlorine is what sanitizes our water.
VIDEO | Salt Water Pool vs Chlorine Pool
So because salt systems still use chlorine, all the chemistry and water balance stuff from earlier still applies. Although, instead of replenishing the chlorine levels by dumping in concentrated chlorine chunks, granules or bleach, this small cell attached to the filter produces the chlorine as it’s needed. And because this process happens within the water, there’s no need to handle nasty chemicals. All you need is some salt and a bit of electricity. Eventually, this new chlorine comes full circle and is converted back into salt, which is great because it means you don’t have to keep adding more.
While this might sound super complicated, it’s really not. Most of the magic is taken care of inside the heart of all saltwater systems: the salt water chlorinator. When the water leaves your pool, it goes first to a pump, which pushes the water through our entire system. The water then heads through a filter (more on that later), and then into a heater (if the pool is heated). Finally the water enters the chlorinating cell, which is also known as the SWG or saltwater generator, and the salt is converted into active chlorine.
Attached to this you’ve got a little control panel which enables you to manage the chlorination process. This panel displays the salt concentration of the water and a dial that allows you to adjust the duty cycle of the chlorinator.
Duty cycle just refers to the percentage of time that the cell is running; so a chlorinator set at 50% will be running 50% of the time. Expect to play around with your system before finding the percentage where the chlorine is kept at 3 PPM.
While all this automation and maintenance free chlorinating may sound great, salt systems do have their share of unique needs. Here’s a few of them for you.
- If your calcium hardness isn’t quite right, scaling can occur inside the SWG. Inspecting the inside of the cell every three months can save you from such an unnecessary fate. If you do find calcium buildup inside, rinse with a hose or else use muriatic acid to remove it.
- Saltwater chlorinators tend to raise the pH of a pool overtime, so you can expect to use pH down regularly.
- The salinity indicator on the control panel of your salt system may not always be reliable, so it’s a good habit to check the salt concentration manually. You’ll need special salinity testers for this, like : AquaChek 561141-02 / Salt Water Test Strips
- The salt concentration in these pools needs to be kept between 2700 – 3400 PPM, which means an initial cost of $50 – $100
- Instead of using pool shock, SWG’s have a superchlorinate setting. This essentially bumps the duty cycle up to 100% for 24 hours or so, which should effectively ‘shock’ the pool. If your chlorinator can’t reach the necessary concentration to achieve breakpoint chlorination, you’ll need to do it manually with chemical chlorine.
Advantages and Disadvantages / Salt Water vs Chlorine
One of the biggest economical advantages to salt systems is the money you’ll save on chlorine. Chlorine systems are consistently rated with an annual cost between 300 and 800 dollars, while claiming salt systems can be kept up for around a hundred bucks a year. And this is on top of all the time you’ll save from constantly having to add chlorine.
The differences between salt and chlorine can seem endless, so here are a few more of the big ones to consider.
- Larger startup cost. On their own, SWGs will put you out at least a few hundred dollars. This will vary based on quality, features, and the cell’s capacity but expect to pay $300 or more for a decent one.
That said, the price tags for salt and chlorine do eventually work out to be about the same. So if you’re on the fence and trying to decide between the two, consider all these factors. At the end of the day, both are popular systems for a reason and there’s not really a wrong way to go.
- Not recommended for concrete pools. Yes, unfortunately salt and concrete lined swimming pools are generally considered incompatible. This is due to concrete’s tendency to degrade overtime when exposed to salt, so you’ll want to keep these two apart.
- Makes things rusty. Anyone who lives near the ocean will know that saltwater has a tendency to turn steel orange with rust. Granted, the salinity of seawater is about 11 times higher than that of saltwater pools, but you should still be wary of saltwater if your pool has a lot of metal parts (like steel walled vinyl pools).
All that said, the price tags for salt and chlorine do eventually work out to be about the same. So if you’re on the fence and trying to decide between the two, consider all these factors. At the end of the day, both are popular systems for a reason and there’s probably not a wrong way to go.
After determining what sanitizer is right for you, it’s time to decide on a filtration system. Like sanitizers, there are a couple of options here, and deciding which one to go with depends on how much work you’re willing to do, how much you’re willing to pay, and the size/volume of your pool.
Unlike sanitizers, you’re more or less limited to three different options. Each of these comes with their own select advantages, needs and limitations, so knowing what each of these are is critical to making the right decision.
Once again, the volume of your pool is critical to know when deciding what filter you’ll be going with. Not only do larger pools require larger filters, but certain filter types are also better suited for larger pools. Fortunately, there’s only one rating to be concerned with here, and that is flow rate.
Flow rate is measured in either gallons per hour (GPH), or gallons per minute (GPM). To size the right filter for your pool, you’ll need to decide how often you’re willing to run your pump. Usually, 8 – 12 hours a day is a good number to aim for, during which all the water inside your pool should have time to make it through the filter.
So say you’re looking at a pump for a 10,000 gallon pool. In order to circulate all that water in 8 hours, you’ll need a pump capable of 1,250 GPH or 20.8 GPM. This is found by dividing the total volume of water by the time you plan to run the pump, and is referred to as ‘turnover rate’. As well, make sure to get a filter rated for the same flow as your pump, or slightly higher to err on the side of caution. Doing so is not only easier on the pump, but it will also help to increase the life of your filter medium.
The three main options available to residential pool owners are sand filters, cartridge filters, and DE filters. Here’s a quick overview of each of these options.
For large in-ground pools, a basic multiport sand filter is hard to beat. Their simplicity and low cost make them an exceptional option for most residential pool owners. That said, they simply aren’t the best at… well, filtering.
For the most part, sand filters can only catch particles larger than 20 – 40 microns. For reference, human hair is said to be right around 50 microns in width, so while this is sufficient it’s by no means fantastic. With this kind of filter, you’ll want to be diligent with keeping your sanitizer/chemical levels where they’re supposed to be, because you can’t fall back on the filter like you can with others.
While 20 – 40 microns may seem like a major disadvantage, especially when compared to DE filters (which can remove particles of 1 – 3 microns) the sand filter more than makes up for it in other areas.
For example, sand filters only require you to change the filter media every 5 – 7 years. Whereas cartridge filters should see a new cartridge every 2 – 3 years, and DE filters will need to be replaced every few weeks. Because of this, sand filters are generally the cheapest to run, and also require the least amount of attention. Replacing the sand will cost anywhere from 50 – 300 bucks, but there’s also some alternatives available to increase filter performance that are a little more costly.
Between replacing the sand, you will need to do what’s called ‘backwashing’. Backwashing is essentially just running the filter in reverse to dislodge the trapped particles. The whole process should take less than ten minutes and is a super hands-off process. Refer to your owner’s manual for more information here, but you won’t be doing this more than once every 1 – 2 weeks.
Next up is cartridge filters. These guys tend to have the smallest physical footprint of all the filters, which makes them great for above ground pools meant to be taken down every year. They are often regarded as a ‘happy medium’ between sand and DE filters as they have relatively simplistic cleaning requirements, and significantly better performance than sand filters. Cost to maintain them is also fairly low (between 15 and 100 dollars for a cartridge).
Cartridges for these filters are usually made of pleated polyester. This material can usually be cleaned with nothing more than a garden hose, although occasionally you’ll want to soak them overnight in a proper filter cleaner. Typically, these filters are said to remove particles of 15 – 20 microns and up. While 10 – 15 microns is significantly better than 20 – 40, it’s still nowhere near what DE filters are capable of.
Diatomaceous earth is one of those strange substances that seems to show up all over the place and with all different uses. Alfred Nobel used it in his original dynamite formula, self-declared health experts can be found all over YouTube proclaiming the many benefits of eating the stuff, and today’s botanists use it on plants as a fungicide. On top of all this, DE works great as a filter media.
In fact, it works so well that it’s considered the best filter media available to residential pool owners. It’s ability to pull out particles as small as 1 – 3 microns in diameter means you’ll be removing some lonely bacteria from your water, not just visible floaties. And since it’s literally the fossilized remains of prehistoric algae, it’s small enough to catch that too.
However, all this amazing-ness doesn’t come without a catch. Maintenance for DE filters is like a combination of maintenance for sand and cartridge filters, so you’ll spend significantly more time keeping these filters clean.
Maintenance for DE filters goes something like this: backwashing once roughly every few weeks (when filter pressure exceeds 10 psi over normal, refer to user’s manual for info on how to do this) and then recharging with fresh media. Each filter takes a specific amount of DE, which needs to be weighed out, mixed with water, and poured into the skimmer. The whole process won’t take that long, but it’s definitely more work than sand or cartridge filters. So this is largely why these filters aren’t the only ones around. Cost is also a large drawback, as DE for pool filters can cost around 10 dollars per pound. And if your filter requires 5 pounds every time, you’ll have to budget this as another chemical.
Overview | Pool Maintenace
And at this point, it’s good to come full circle and remember the whole reason to have a pool in the first place: they’re really fun to swim in. Whether it’s a simple above ground pool for a refreshing place to dip, or your own personal lap pool, don’t forget that it’s all about the swimming. All this chemistry and filter media stuff is just to make the process of upkeep less confusing, so you can spend less time scratching your head and more time in the water.
And again, one of the wonderful things about all of this, is that there’s no wrong way to do it. If you want to use saltwater with a concrete pool, and run a filter meant for a pool 4 times the size, you can do that. It most likely isn’t the most economical route to go, but no one’s going to stop you.
As the internet’s favorite pool guru, once said, “…at the end of the day, we all just want to help you take care of your pool, and we all want your pool to be crystal clear and fun to swim in”Matt Giovanisci / Swim University
If you find yourself with some questions still left unanswered, by all means check out the sources below. There you’ll find plenty of videos to walk you through filter backwashing, the pros and cons of other sanitizers, blog posts/articles on breakpoint chlorination, and even a video on measuring the amount of pee in your pool.
Sources / Bibliography
- YouTube. (2020). Salt Water Versus Chlorine In Pools. YouTube.
- YouTube. (2018). What is a Saltwater Pool? Chemistry, Lifespan, Cost & More. YouTube.
- YouTube. (2019). Pool Maintenance For Beginners [Step-By-Step Action Plan] | Swim University.
- YouTube. (2021). Which Chemicals Do You Need To Open A Pool? | Swim University. YouTube.
- YouTube. (2019). Stabilized vs Unstabilized Chlorine: What’s the Difference? | Swim University. YouTube.
- YouTube. (2019). Pool Chemistry 101: How to Keep Your Water Balanced | Swim University. YouTube.
- YouTube. (2021). How to Cure Chlorine Lock and Chlorine Demand | Swim University. YouTube.
- Malott, C. (2020, July 13). Outdoor industry explodes as Americans flock to the great outdoors After Coronavirus quarantine. SnowBrains.
- Pool Chemistry 101: How to Sanitize Your Water (Chlorine, Bromine, Salt, Minerals) | Swim University. (2019). YouTube.
- YouTube. (2020). The Best Chlorine Alternatives To Sanitize Your Pool | Swim University. YouTube.
- How to Remove Chlorine Smell from Pool | Inyopools.com.
- Giovanisci, M. (2020, August 26). Basic pool chemistry 101. Swim University
- YouTube. (2015). Buffer Solutions. YouTube.
- YouTube. (2017). How to measure How Much Pee Is In Your Pool. YouTube.
- How often should i shock my pool. How Often Should I Shock my Pool | In The Swim. (n.d.).
- How to shock a pool. Hayward POOLSIDE Blog. (2021, March 25).
- Technologies, O. (2017). Understanding Breakpoint Chlorination [web log].
- YouTube. (2017). Salt Pool / Chlorine Generator- What is it? Do I need one? YouTube.
- Salt chlorinators and fiberglass swimming pools. Leisure Pools Canada. (2020, December 22).
- Simmons, M., & Paroline, P. (2020, June 26). Poolside chat episode #41: Salt chlorine generator percentage. INYOPools.com – DIY Resources.
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