Caring for a pool consists of two major components:
A.) Proper cleaning and filtration
B.) Chemical balancing and treatment.
Proper Cleaning and Filtration: Keeping the pool and surrounding area clean from organic debris is fundamental to maintaining a healthy pool environment. Proper filtration requires that the pool pump and filter are in good operating condition; the pump and filter are running long enough daily; and water is circulating effectively. A clean pool will minimize water chemistry problems.
1.) Wash the pools waterline as necessary to remove built up oils and mineral deposits. There are many brands of over the counter tile and vinyl cleaners for this.
2.) Remove debris from skimmer basket(s), and pump trap basket as necessary, (never operate your pool pump without these in place; they are your only defense against plugged lines and or pump impeller). Use hand held skimmer net and pole to quickly remove floating debris from the pool.
3.) Vacuum Pool as necessary: When vacuuming, your pool filters multi-port valve, (mpv.), should be set to the filter/vacuum to pool position for ordinary cleaning. If the pool has a large amount of fine debris, such as when vacuuming a freshly opened pool that had a mesh safety winter cover, set the mpv. to the drain/vacuum to waste position. This allows you to quickly remove fine debris without having to constantly backwash the filter; you must realize that when the mpv. is set in the drain/vacuum to waste position you have a finite amount of time to vacuum before the water level falls too low to continue vacuuming, at which point you need to add more water to the pool before continuing.
a.) close all suction lines, (main drain, second skimmer, deep water outlet, etc.), except for the skimmer you will use to vacuum.
b.) attach vacuum head to vacuum pole, attach swiveling end of vacuum hose to vacuum head, connect other end of vacuum hose to vacuum plate.
c.) Place the vacuum head into the pool and fill the vacuum hose with water by either holding the hose end with vacuum plate over a return inlet or by feeding the vacuum hose down into the pool starting with the vacuum head until you get to the vacuum plate, (you should see water come up through the hose if done properly).
d.) In a swift motion take the end of the hose with the vacuum plate on and place it down into the skimmer through the lid opening; be sure to position the vacuum plate so that it is centered over the skimmer basket. Never vacuum the pool without the skimmer basket in place; it is necessary to catch leaves and other large debris to avoid a potential plugged circulation line.
e.) Begin vacuuming the pool in a smooth steady motion. Begin in the shallowest portion of the pool and work methodically towards the deepest area. If during the vacuuming process the vacuum rate begins to slow, (i.e. you are having trouble picking up debris), this is a sign that the filter may be getting plugged. Check the filter pressure and if necessary clean the filter; otherwise look for an obstruction in the vacuum head, hose, skimmer basket, or pump trap basket and remove it. Do not lift the vacuum head out of the water while vacuuming as this will allow air to be drawn into the pool pump causing it to lose its prime.
f.) When finished, turn off the pool pump, remove vacuum hose and plate from the skimmer, empty skimmer basket and pump trap basket if necessary, backwash or clean filter if necessary, otherwise turn pump back on leaving the mpv. set in the filter/vacuum to pool position.
4.) Clean pool filter when necessary: It is necessary to clean your filter when the filter pressure rises to a value that is 5-10 psi. greater than the filter pressure when it is clean, (just after cleaning). For instance lets say you just cleaned your filter, you turn the pump back on and the clean filter pressure is 12 psi., and the manufacturer suggests cleaning the filter when the pressure rises 10 psi.. You do not need to clean your filter until the filter pressure has risen to a value of 22 psi. It is important to clean the filter promptly when the pressure has risen to this point; allowing the pressure to build higher will result in poor circulation that may cause water chemistry problems, unsanitary water or your pool heater may not turn on. Equally important is that you not clean the filter before it has reached the 10 psi. threshold. As the filter pressure rises, your filter is slowly becoming a finer filter, allowing it to remove smaller and smaller debris particles. Using our previous example the filter will be a finer filter at 20psi. than at 15 psi. thereby removing more debris at a filter pressure of 20 psi.. If you constantly clean your filter before it has risen to the 10 psi. threshold, you may never experience the crystal clear pool water your filter is capable of producing. You will also have a harder time clearing cloudy pool water when necessary.
a.) Cartridge filter: Turn pool pump off, disassemble filter, remove cartridge, spray off debris with a garden hose and spray nozzle, (Do Not use a pressure washer), by spraying from one end of the filter to the other working parallel with the pleats. Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of the filter. When wash water is clean you are finished; reinstall cartridge in filter and turn pump back on. If possible allow the filter to dry completely before reassembling, this will maximize the filter cycle before cleaning is necessary, (it is recommended you have 2 sets of filters to allow this process to take place).
b.) Sand filter: Sand filters are cleaned by reversing the flow of water and wasting off the debris filled water. Before we discuss the procedure for back washing, we first must define the purpose of each position on your multi-port valve (mpv.).
1.) Filter/vacuum to pool: Use this position for normal pool filtering and normal pool vacuuming. Water goes into the top of the filter, down through the sand, (this is where the debris is removed), then back to the pool.
2.) Drain/vacuum to waste: Use this position to lower the water level or to vacuum fine sediment without having to frequently clean the filter. Pool water from pump bypasses the filter and goes directly out the waste line.
3.) Close: Use this position to stop the water from draining back to the pool when the pump trap is opened. This position closes all water passages in or out of the mpv.
4.) Backwash: Used to clean the filter. Back washing reverses the flow of water so that it comes up through the sand, dislodging trapped debris and washing both water and debris out the waste line.
5.) Auxiliary circulation or recirculate: Use this position to distribute chemicals you have added directly to the pool before pool shutdown in fall. There are other technical reasons that most pools will never need. The water comes from the pump, goes through the mpv and directly back to the pool without having gone through the filter sand.
6.) Filter to waste or rinse: Used to re-set the sand bed after back washing and to remove any remaining debris. The water travels down through the filter sand, and out the waste line.
7.) Winterize: Put handle in this position for winter. When in this position the mpv. directional plate is raised off the main gasket keeping the two form sticking together.
Warning! Never change the position of the mpv. setting without first turning off the pool pump. Failure to do so may result in internal damage to the mpv.
To backwash a sand filter and in some cases a diatomaceous earth filter:
1.) Turn off pool circulation pump.
2.) Push handle on mpv. down and move to backwash position.
3.) Turn on pool circulation pump.
4.) Let pump run for about 1 minute or until waste water is clear.
5.) Turn pump off and turn to the filter to waste or rinse setting.
6.) Turn pump on and let it run approximately 15 seconds or until the waste water is clear.
7.) Turn off pump and turn mpv. handle back to the filter/vacuum to pool position.
8.) Turn pump back on.
c.) Diatomaceous Earth Filter: Models of these filters vary and the cleaning procedures are dependent on the plumbing design. A general description is as follows. Turn the pool pump off, bump the filter and drain contents or follow backwash procedures as described in the sand filter section. Add the necessary diatom through the skimmer. Refer to the filter owners manual for more detailed directions and the amount of diatom to add to your filter.
Chemical Balancing and Treatment:
Balancing pool water means to adjust and maintain key water properties and certain mineral levels in your pool within a certain range. Pool chemicals are designed to work efficiently within these ranges; also the human body is more comfortable in water that is maintained in the proper range. In short, pools that are out of balance are going to be much more time consuming and costly to maintain, and uncomfortable to be in. Pool treatment consists of applying water balancing products, sanitizing products, or preventative products.
Pool water chemistry:
First and foremost you must have a test kit that is in good condition and has new chemicals (reagents); old reagents can go bad and give you false readings. The kit should include at a minimum the ability to test for free chlorine, pH, and total alkalinity. The kit will also have complete water chemistry, balancing instructions, and directions. If your current one doesn?t have these items, spend a few dollars on a new test kit and save yourself some headaches.
Our discussion will deal with chlorine or bromine sanitized pools. There are other alternative sanitizers and they can be effective. We are very confident that a properly balanced chlorine or bromine pool is the safest, easiest, and best value for our customers. We do offer a product called Nature 2 which works in conjunction with a chlorinated pool; many of our customers are experiencing tremendous benefits when utilizing this product. Nature 2 will be discussed later. Lets get started. We will first discuss the different components of pool water chemistry, their relevance and suggested ranges.
Free Chlorine: Range: 1 - 3 Parts Per Million (ppm.). This measures chlorine in the water that is available to sanitize pool water thereby killing bacteria and harmful pathogens. Free chlorine is maintained in pool water by manually adding chlorine or using chlorine feeder.
Combined Chlorine: Range: None. Combined chlorine is made up of chlorine molecules that have bonded to organic waste in pool water forming chloramines. In this state, chlorine cannot sanitize and in fact produces harsh odors and is irritating to eyes and skin. Chloramines are eliminated by shocking the pool water.
Total Bromine: Range: 2 - 4 ppm. This measures all of the available bromine present in pool water and can sanitize pool water. The reason a bromine test measures all bromine is because unlike chlorine, a bromine molecule that bonds to organic waste, forming bromamines are still capable of disinfecting. A buildup of bromamines will still produce a strong odor and cause skin and eye irritation. Eliminate bromamine buildup by shocking the pool. Add bromine to your pool by using a automatic brominator.
PH (potential hydrogen): Range: 7.2 - 7.6 PH is a relative measurement of the acidity or base of your pool water. Low or high pH will cause skin and eye irritation; sanitary effectiveness drops dramatically. Raise pH by adding PH Up. Lower pH by adding pH Down. Check containers for use instructions.
Total Alkalinity: Range: 80 - 150ppm Total alkalinity (T.A.) is composed of the minerals in your pool water that buffer PH. High T.A. will result in poor sanitizer performance and possible scaling. Low T.A. will result in pH bounce, (an inability to effectively keep pH balanced). Raise T.A. by adding T.A. increaser. Lower T.A. by adding muratic acid. Follow your test kit for specific instructions for this.
Calcium Hardness (C.H.): Range: 175 - 225 ppm. C.H. is the relative hardness of your pool water. If C.H. is too low it can become aggressive, attacking pool equipment, fixtures, even the pools surface. High C.H. can cause scale formation. Increase calcium by adding C.H. increaser. To lower C.H. partially drain pool water and fill with fresh water that has a lower C.H. content. If this is not possible there are other sophisticated treatments more complicated than this venue will allow; check with a pool professional for recommendations.
Total Dissolved Solids (T.D.S.) Range: Under 1500 ppm. High T.D.S. can cause cloudiness and reduced sanitizer effectiveness. Reduce T.D.S. by partially draining pool water and filling with fresh water with a low T.D.S. reading.
Stabilizer (conditioner, cyanuric acid) Range: 40 - 80 ppm. Stabilizer is used only with chlorinated pools and acts as a buffer to keep chlorine from breaking down. Raise stabilizer by adding more, (follow label instructions). Lower stabilizer by partially draining and filling with fresh water.
Metals: (Iron, Copper, Manganese) Range: None. Metals in pool water can cause staining, colored or cloudy water. Remove metals by using products specifically designed for this task. They are numerous and should be obtained through a pool professional. Follow label instructions for application.
As you can see many of these tests are not in a typical home pool test kit. You can invest in a professional test kit or take a water sample to have it tested at a capable pool dealer.
Pool Water Sanitizing:
Pool sanitizing consists of two main portions: maintaining a safe sanitizer level and shocking (oxidizing) contaminants. Maintaining an effective sanitizer level consists of adding chlorine or bromine to the pool water until your pool gets to the recommended level and then maintaining that level. This can be accomplished by adding chlorine on a daily basis by hand or by adding chlorine evenly and continuously using an automatic chlorine feeder. Use of an automatic chlorine feeder is the recommended method. Bromine for sanitation can only be added with an automatic feeder.
Shocking pool water is necessary when there is a buildup of organic waste that inhibits sanitizer performance. chloramines and bromamines are what form when organic waste combines with free chlorine and bromine molecules. chloramines and bromamines are what cause the pool "odor" or eye and skin irritation. chloramines and bromamines need to be broken apart back to free chlorine and bromine, and the organic waste needs to be oxidized (destroyed). This is accomplished by adding the required dosage of either chlorine or potassium monopersulfate (non-chlorine shock). Shocking essentially super cleans the water by removing organic contaminants.