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10 Common Pool Care Mistakes

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Everyone makes mistakes, but you can learn from those mistakes. Instead of making them yourself, I decided to put a list together of common mistakes pool owners make when it comes to taking care of their swimming pool. That way, you don’t have to mess up to learn what NOT to do.

Common Pool Care Mistakes

1. Shocking Your Swimming Pool During The Day

You should shock your pool every week. That’s 1 pound of shock per 10,000 gallons of water.

The chlorine that you keep in the water, attaches itself to particles it wants to kill and creates a chloramine, or dead chlorine. These chloramines should not be in your pool. In order to get rid of them, you must shock (oxidize) it! Shocking gets rid of the chloramines (dead chlorine).

In order for your shock treatment to be the most effective, you need to shock your pool at night or dusk. Why? Shock is un-stabilized chlorine. The sun will burn off 1 ppm (part per million) each hour. In order to reach break-point oxidation, you need a chlorine level of 13 ppm or more.

If you shock at night, the sun can’t burn off the chlorine, leaving enough time to do its job.

2. Not Brushing Your Pool

Everyone knows that you need to vacuum your pool to keep it from getting dirty, but that’s NOT the only thing you need to do. After you get done vacuuming your pool, manually or automatically, use a pool brush and brush the hard to reach areas:

This will ensure that no funky things will grow in your water, like algae. Brushing your pool weekly or more is very important for a healthy, clear swimming pool.

3. Using An Automatic Cleaner To Vacuum Your Pool When You Have An Algae Problem

If you have an outbreak of algae in your water, trying to vacuum it out is a difficult task. If you use your manual suction vacuum, the algae will blow right past your filter system and back into your pool.

If you have to vacuum manually, make sure you set your filter to “waste” or remove the drain plug. You will lose a lot of water, but the algae can’t come back in through the return line. It will be vacuumed directly out of your pool.

Using any type of automatic cleaner is a bad idea when you have algae. Pressure-side automatic cleaners push the debris (algae) up through a mesh bag. All this will do is blow the algae around your pool.

Robotic pool cleaners have a finer mesh bag, so it will clog up quickly, and blow around the algae. Do not use an automatic cleaner to vacuum algae.

4. Ignoring Your pH and Alkalinity Levels

If your pool water has a very low pH, that means the water is very acidic. It’s very hard for things like algae to grow in acidic water. Also, acidic water looks very clear, but this is a major problem.

You might think your pool is okay, but the low pH is actually causing a lot of damage to your equipment, including:

Low pH can ruin anything the water touches, and if it ruins the heating element inside your heater, it will not be covered under the warranty.

Alkalinity is what keeps your pH stable. pH can go from basic to acidic very quickly because EVERYTHING affects the pH in your pool. The alkalinity level helps to keep it from fluctuating so much.

5. Over Backwashing Your Pool Filter System

Backwashing is what cleans the filter media inside your filter, whether it’s sand or D.E. (diatomaceous earth). It takes water from your pool, washes the filter media, and shoots the dirty water out of your backwash valve or drain plug.

Backwashing is important, but there is one good indicator as to when you need to do it. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge on your filter tank. After your filter has been freshly backwashed, take note of the pressure gauge. In most cases, it will read between 10 and 15 psi (per square inch). This is where your filter should be running normally.

When the pressure rises to about 10 psi over your normal pressure, that means there is a lot of extra debris in your filter that is causing the increased pressure. Now is a good time to backwash and bring the pressure back down to normal.

Tip: The more debris in your filter, the better your filter will…filter. The extra debris will help trap finer particles, but don’t let it build up past 10 psi.

6. Adding Pool Shock Through Your Skimmer

This is BY FAR the biggest mistake you can make while taking care of your swimming pool. Why? Your pool filter system can literally blow up!

Here’s how…

Pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) and chlorine (DiChlor or TriChlor), when combined, creates a deadly gas. If you have an automatic chlorinator attached to your filter system, and you pour the shock into the skimmer, the shock and chlorine will mix inside the chlorinator which can cause the chlorinator to EXPLODE!

People have gotten hurt because of this.

7. Adding Shock Directly Into The Pool Water

Swimming Pool ShockShock is a very high concentration of chlorine. Chlorine can bleach things, turning black clothes pink and white clothes…well, whiter.

If you have a vinyl liner in your swimming pool, you do not want to add shock directly into the water. The shock granules will sink the bottom and bleach out your liner. It will also cause the area to become brittle and frail, which can cause leaks.

Make sure that you pre-dissolve shock in a bucket of water before adding it to your swimming pool. This will help protect your liner, pool walls, and floor. It will also help distribute the shock better in the water.

Tip: Using warm water will dissolve the shock easier, but it will create chlorine steam (new band name, I called it!). Make sure you wear protective eye wear, a mask, and gloves before doing this.

Tip #2: NEVER add water to chemicals, add chemicals to water. Fill the bucket with water first before adding the shock.

8. Not Using Calcium Hardness In Your Pool Water

Calcium Hardness hardens your pool water. By keeping your pool water hard, it will help prolong the life of you vinyl liner, concrete, plaster, fiberglass, and filter system.

You only need to add it once at the beginning of the season to get the level up where you need it to be, around 200 – 250 ppm. However, be sure you keep an eye on this throughout the season. You can loss calcium in your water due to evaporation and splash out.

If you use calcium hypochlorite shock, you are adding a little bit of calcium each time you use it.

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9. Running Your Pool Filter System Less Than 8 Hours A Day

It’s recommended that you run your pool filter and pump at LEAST 8 hours a day. Your filter and pump is what keeps your pool clean, and it’s important to make sure that all of your pool water runs through the filter at least once a day.

The more you run your pool filter, the less chance for pool water problems.

10. Neglecting To Test Your Pool Water Weekly

Testing your pool water every weekly will ensure that you have the proper chemical levels.

If you cannot take a sample of your pool water to your local pool store, be sure to always have a liquid test kit or test strips on hand. You do not need a thorough analysis every week, just check your pH and Free Chlorine levels – those are the most important.

Be sure to take a sample of your pool water to your local pool supply store to get a detailed analysis at least once a month. They can check your water for:

What We’ve Learned From Our Mistakes

Swimming pool care is not difficult, but it’s important to know how to do it right. These mistakes are common amongst new and experienced pool owners. Do not fear the pool; embrace it and tame the beast.

To recap:

If you have any questions about pool care, of if you’ve made mistakes that you’d like to see corrected, please add your comments below.

Happy Swimming!

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Last Updated: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012