With a wide choice of pool products on the market, it’s hard to tell which is best for your pool. We show you how to determine what’ll meet your requirements.
Some products promise you crystal-clear water in an instant – but can also result in a build-up of metals such as copper that will permanently stain your pool. Sure, the water may look brilliant for a month or two, but then the problems start. It’s vital to determine the volume of your pool, as this dictates the quantities of all chemicals used. The formula is: length (m) x width (m) x depth (m) x 1 000 = volume (in litres).
- Have a water sample tested at your local pool shop every week. You can also use DIY kits and then simply ask the pool shop what chemicals your pool needs. The four tests that are required should give you the following readings:
- Marblite Pools A chlorine level of 1.5 parts per million (ppm); a pH level of between 7.4 and 7.6 ppm; a total alkalinity level of between 80 and 125 ppm; and a calcium level of between 200 and 275.
- Fibreglass Pools A chlorine level of 1 to 3 ppm; a pH level of between 7.4 and 7.6 ppm; a total alkalinity level of between 125 and 150 ppm; and a calcium level of between 125 and 150ppm.
- TIP: Your pool shop will tell you what chemicals – and how much to add to correct any imbalances. For example, you need to add acid if the pH level is too high, or soda ash if it’s too low.
- Scrub the side of the pool weekly with a purpose-designed brush to remove existing algae and discourage further growth. Algae causes green to black-brown spots and should be removed immediately.
- TIP: If necessary, use an algaecide, which can be obtained from pool shops, hardware and hyperstores. The label clearly indicates quantities, which will depend on the volume of your pool.
- The pool filter needs to be backwashed and rinsed every week. The filter has a lever which is normally set to ‘filter’; set this to ‘backwash’ for two minutes and then to ‘rinse’ for a minute, before returning it to the ‘filter’ position. (The timing for each process depends on the size of the pool.) During this process, a powerful jet of water will pump out of your waste outlet. You can drain this water into a tank or drum, let it stand for a few days so that the chemicals evaporate, and then use it to water your lawn.
- Once a week, clean the pump basket. Leaves, seeds and flowers building up here can affect the pump’s efficiency.
- Clean the skimmer box basket daily, particularly if there are messy trees in the vicinity.
- TIP: A milky pool is generally the result of windborne dust or building activity in the vicinity, but can also be caused by algaecides. Add a flocculent (calculate the quantity by your pool’s volume, following the packaging instructions, or consult your pool shop). The flocculent carries the dust particles to the bottom of the pool, from where it has to be removed with a vacuum attachment. This attachment is fitted to the pool pole and the pipe normally used for your automatic pool cleaner is plugged into it. This vacuum fuction would normally be done by the automatic pool cleaner, but in severe cases manual vacuuming is recommended. In that case, the fliter should be set on ‘Waste’.
- Take a water sample to your pool shop once a month for testing – or use a kit – and add chemicals as required.
- Scrub your pool monthly to remove algae and prevent further growth. Cover the water with a pool blanket to prevent the growth of algae.
- Backwashing and rinsing should also be carried out once a month.
- Clean the reservoir basket and pool when necessary.
- Clean the skimmer box basket daily if there are messy trees in the vicinity and if your pool’s not covered.
- Wash the sand in the filter once a month. Do this by adding a bottle of special detergent to the filter and then switch it off for 24 hours, after which you need to backwash and rinse the filter thoroughly.
- Replace the sand in the filter every two years, or ask your pool shop to do so.
- Pool water can turn green after heavy rains, calling for a concentrated dose of chlorine. These shock treatments can be bought in individual packets, which contain detailed instructions and the right quantities. The pool water will then also need to be tested afterwards.
- A new pool (or fresh water in a repaired or renovated pool) should not be chemically treated for the first three weeks, after which adding a stabiliser is the first step – the packaging will indicate the quantity by volume. Test the water a week later and then add other chemicals as required.