11 Common Pool Maintenance Mistakes

Making mistakes, especially pool maintenance mistakes, ranks somewhere between tripping on a rake and getting kicked in the tender bits on our personal scale of fun. But nobody’s perfect, and owning a swimming pool brings plenty of chances to make pool care mistakes, big or small.

But mistakes are really just opportunities to learn. Some teach their lessons only when you make them. Others, you learn best by avoiding them. Educating yourself on the most common pool maintenance mistakes helps you keep your pool safer, cleaner, and running efficiently with less mess and frustration.

1. Adding Shock Directly Into The Pool Water

The chemical we call pool shock If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. is basically concentrated chlorine. At high strength, chlorine can bleach anything that enters your pool. For example, it can turn black clothes pink and white clothes yellow if the concentration is too high.

Don’t worry—you can’t overshock your pool. But beyond fashion faux pas, adding shock directly to the pool water if you have a vinyl liner can be a disaster. The shock granules will sink the bottom and bleach out your liner. The bleached area becomes brittle and frail, causing leaks.

The Solution

Pre-dissolve the chemical in a bucket of water before you shock your pool. This will allow the shock to disperse more evenly in the water, protecting your liner, pool walls, and floor.

An important rule to remember when you’re avoiding pool maintenance mistakes is “Always add chemicals to water, and never water to chemicals.” Fill the bucket with water first before adding the shock to avoid potentially dangerous splashback.

Also, using warm water will dissolve the shock more easily, but it will also create the awesome-sounding but not-so-awesome-feeling chlorine steam. Slip on your protective eyewear If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , a chemical mask If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , and chemical-resistant gloves If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. before you prep your bucket of shock water.

In The Swim Chlorine Pool Shock - 1 lb. bags - 24 Pack Price: $62.99
In The Swim Chlorine Pool Shock - 1 lb. bags - 24 Pack
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

2. Not Brushing Your Pool

You already know how important it is to vacuum your pool regularly to keep scum and gunk from building up and ruining your swim.

But just like your teeth or a hutch of Angora rabbits, your pool needs a good brushing to look its best. Whether you vacuum your pool manually or automatically, follow up with a good brushing.

The Solution

Grab yourself a pool brush If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. and attack your pool’s hard-to-reach areas, including:

All this scrubbing keeps algae and other funky, gunky invaders at bay. Brush once a week, or more often if it needs it, for a healthy, pristine pool.

Milliard Heavy Duty Nylon/Wire Hybrid Swimming Pool Brush - 18 in. Price: $15.99
Milliard Heavy Duty Nylon/Wire Hybrid Swimming Pool Brush - 18 in.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

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

Dealing with pool algae is hard enough. Add vacuuming to the list, and you might find yourself thinking it’s time to replace your pool with something less high-maintenance, like a rare orchid farm or a meerkat sanctuary.

It’s tempting, but don’t fire up your robotic cleaner. Pressure-side automatic pool cleaners If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. push algae and other debris up through a mesh bag. This gives the algae a nice little tour of your pool, but doesn’t remove it.

Taking things high-tech won’t help, either. They do an amazing job when algae’s not an issue, but even the best robotic pool cleaners use a fine mesh bag that’ll clog with algae—fast. The clogged gunk gets blown around the pool, and you’re back to square one.

The Solution

Solving this very common pool care mistake is easy, though a little more labor-intensive. You’ll need to break out the manual vacuum If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. . Be sure to switch your filter to “waste” or remove the drain plug.

Yes, you’ll lose a fair amount of water, but you’ll also lose the algae. They’ll be vacuumed right out of your pool and out of your life.

Hayward Pool Vacuum Cleaner Head Price: $49.49
Hayward Pool Vacuum Cleaner Head
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

4. Ignoring Your pH and Alkalinity Levels

Waaaaaay back in your high school science classes, you probably learned about the importance of balanced pH to healthy, happy ecosystems—including your pool. A low pH indicates acidity, while a high one indicates alkalinity. Too much of either is bad news.

If your pool water has a very low pH, the water is very acidic. This might seem like a good thing at first; after all, it’s very hard for algae and other invaders to thrive acidic water. Plus, acidic water sparkles and appears, at first glance, to be pristine and pure.

But as we once found out after eating some really bad gas station sushi, appearances can be deceiving. Low pH can actually damage your pool equipment, including:

The Solution

Our motto? Better living through chemistry. Balancing acidity and alkalinity keeps your pH stable. Because just about anything can skew water chemistry in no time flat, make sure you test your pool water regularly.

Then adjust your levels with pH increaser If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , alkalinity increaser If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , and other essential chemicals until everything’s back in balance.

Hayward CL200 In-line Automatic Chemical Feeder Price: $70.00
Hayward CL200 In-line Automatic Chemical Feeder
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

5. Backwashing Your Pool Filter Too Often

Despite its name, backwashing is NOT a secret toddler technique for leaving floaties in your soda. Backwashing cleans the media inside your filter, whether it’s sand If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. or diatomaceous earth If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. (D.E.). Pool water washes funk and gunk out of your filter media, then exits through your filters backwash valve drain port.

Backwashing is an important part of basic pool care, but overdoing it is one of the more common pool maintenance mistakes.

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the fluff and confusion of pool maintenance and stripped it down to the bare bones in this easy-to-read illustrated digital guide.

Click here to learn more

The Solution

Keep an eye on the pressure gauge on your filter tank. Right after you give your filter If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. a thorough backwashing, take note of the pressure gauge. In most cases, it will read between 10 and 15 pounds per square inch (psi), which is the appropriate baseline for optimal filter performance.

Now, this might seem counterintuitive, but the more debris that’s caught by your filter, the better your filter will function—up to a point. Extra debris helps trap finer particles, but the benefits disappear once the buildup raises your pressure reading to around 10 psi over your baseline (i.e., 20 psi–25 psi).

When the pressure in your filter hits 10 psi over normal, you’ve probably got a nice dose of extra goop in there raising the pressure. Backwash that bad boy, and bring the pressure back down to keep your system humming along at peak efficiency.

Hayward VL40T32 VL Series 30 GPM Sand Filter System Price: $208.49
Hayward VL40T32 VL Series 30 GPM Sand Filter System
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

6. Adding Pool Shock Through Your Skimmer

Some pool maintenance mistakes are relatively minor. But since making this one can literally blow up your pool’s filter system, we recommend avoiding it at all costs.

Combining calcium hypochlorite If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. or dichlor If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. pool shock and chlorine If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. creates a deadly gas. If you have an automatic chlorinator attached to your filter system and you pour the shock into the skimmer, the two chemicals will combine in a very small space.

The result?

Tiny chamber + deadly gas expansion = BOOM.

The Solution

Keep your pool shock and your skimmer far, far away from one another. Always add your shock following the manufacturer’s directions, while wearing appropriate safety gear.

DryTec 68% Calcium Hypochlorite Shock - 1 lb. - Pack of 24 Price: $59.49
DryTec 68% Calcium Hypochlorite Shock - 1 lb. - Pack of 24
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

7. Shocking Your Swimming Pool During The Day

Chlorine in your pool water attaches itself to particles it wants to kill, leaving behind chemical compounds called chloramines. Since they irritate the eyes and skin and generally make life miserable, chloramines don’t belong in your pool.

Shocking gets rid of chloramines and helps bring your pool’s chlorine levels to a well-balanced 13 parts per million (ppm).

But while daytime is great for enjoying your pool, it’s the wrong time to shock. See, shock is unstabilized chlorine. The sun, which is not kind to pool shock at all, will burn off 1 ppm each hour, reducing the efficiency of your chemicals, and wasting your money.

The Solution

Shock at night to give your pool shock the time it needs to do its job. Also, shock your pool once a week, using about 1 lb. (.5 kg) of shock for every 10,000 gallons (37,854 L) of water, and test If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. until you’re at or near the target of 13 ppm.

Taylor Technologies Complete Test Kit Price: $54.94
Taylor Technologies Complete Test Kit
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8. Not Leveraging the Calcium Hardness In Your Pool Water

As with pH, balancing your water’s calcium hardness is essential to a clear, clean, and safe swimming pool. And while you don’t want too much because it’ll cloud the water, a little hardness is actually a good thing.

It helps extend the lifespan of things like vinyl liners, concrete, plaster, fiberglass, and filters.

The Solution

You can add calcium hardness increaser If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. to keep your calcium hardness at the recommended level of 200 ppm–250 ppm. Add it when you open your pool to get the level where you want it. Check it often throughout the swim season, since evaporation and splash out can drop the levels too low.

Oh, and if you use calcium hypochlorite shock If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , you’re actually adding a little bit of calcium each time you use it. It’s a bit of a twofer for the thrifty pool owner, because it shocks and helps prolong the life of your pool equipment. Nice.

In The Swim Pool Calcium Hardness Increaser - 25 lbs. Price: $47.99
In The Swim Pool Calcium Hardness Increaser - 25 lbs.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

9. Running Your Pool Filter System Fewer Than Eight Hours A Day

Your pool’s filter can’t do its job if it’s not running. The more you run your pool filter If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , the fewer contaminants and critters can create headaches. As pool care mistakes go, this one’s pretty minor, but it’s still worth your time to clock that filter.

The Solution

Run your pool filter and pump at LEAST eight hours a day. Depending on the size of your pool, this should be plenty of time for all of the water to pass through the filter, keeping your water clearer.

Hayward C3030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter - 325 sq. ft. Price: $673.73
Hayward C3030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter - 325 sq. ft.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

10. Neglecting To Test Your Pool Water Weekly

Owning a pool comes with a whole list of chores to complete every day, week, month, and year. Your weekly water testing is one of the most important, since it can tip you off to small issues in your pool’s water chemistry before they blossom into major disasters.

The Solution

Test your pool water at least once a week, either with test strips If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. or a liquid test kit If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. . Then take a sample of your pool water to your local pool supply store to get a detailed analysis at least once a month.

The primary levels you should be testing for are:

You don’t need a complete, CSI-style workup every week, but definitely check your alkalinity, pH, and free chlorine levels, since they’re the core components of safe, sanitary pool water.

AquaChek Select 7-in-1 Pool and Spa Test Strips Complete Kit Price: $14.37
AquaChek Select 7-in-1 Pool  and Spa Test Strips Complete Kit
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

11. Wearing Street Clothes in Your Pool

Listen, we’re no strangers to fashion forward trends. We can rock the majestic weirdness of a romphim with the best of ’em. We even thought about picking up one of those Lady Gaga swan dresses for casual fridays a few years back. But we draw the line at street clothes in pools.

Wearing your everyday duds in the pool can introduce chemicals, fibers, and other contaminants to your water. Plus, the chemicals in your water can actually ruin your clothes. Your water will be compromised, and everyone in the neighborhood will wonder why you’re suddenly so into the tie-dyed look.

The Solution

Keep your clothes streetside and stick to swimsuits in the pool.

In The Swim Cal-Chlor Pool Chlorine Granules - 50 lbs. Price: $149.99
In The Swim Cal-Chlor Pool Chlorine Granules - 50 lbs.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/21/2018

Every Mistake Holds a Lesson for Better Pool Care

Nobody’s perfect. From poor water chemistry to letting your Uncle Hank test his experimental beer-powered algae extractor, we all make pool maintenance mistakes.

But every goof is a new lesson on improving your pool care game. And if you take the time to learn from the mistakes of others, you’ll find you’re spending less time maintaining your pool, and more time enjoying it.

Happy Swimming!

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the fluff and confusion of pool maintenance and stripped it down to the bare bones in this easy-to-read illustrated digital guide.

Click here to learn more
The Art of Pool Care

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