- By Andrew Astonville
- Published 07/6/2012
Now that the summer months have arrived in the UK, everyone who is lucky enough to own a swimming pool will want it in sparkling condition for lovely outdoor get-togethers with friends and family.
From filtration to pool chemicals, the following guide will explain the easy steps to take after the winter months so you can safely enjoy swimming this summer.
Step 1 – Remove Swimming Pool Cover
I have outlined in previous articles how important it is to have a pool cover – not only does it keep out debris, it prevents water evaporation and there are even covers which are strong enough to withstand the weight of a child or pet if an accident happens.
The first thing to open your pool for summer is to remove the cover and clean it so that it’s kept in good condition for storage. Bear in mind that when your pool is not in use for an extended period of time, such as if you go on holiday for 2-3 weeks, you should always keep the pool cover on.
Step 2 – Remove Surface Debris
Hopefully you had a cover secured onto your pool throughout winter, so the water should be relatively clear and blue. If not, you will want to remove any debris floating on the water surface with your leaf net, leaf rake or leaf eater. This is important as you don’t want leaves clogging up your filtration system, not to mention the added bacteria that feeds on organic debris.
Also don’t forget to remove any freeze plugs and other such items which were installed to protect your pool elements against freezing during winter.
Step 3 – Check for Leaks
Assess the pool itself – be sure to keep an eye out for any cracks or leaks in the structure. Even if a crack appears tiny, it can lead to a big problem in the future.
Step 3 – Top Up Your Pool Water
Natural evaporation will occur even during the cold months when there’s no sunshine, so you will need to add water to your pool so that it’s at the correct level for swimming. If you’re not sure exactly how much or how little water you need to add, simply ask the specialists who sold you the pool.
Step 4 – Ensure the Pool Filter is Clean
When you closed your pool for the winter, you should have cleaned the filter thoroughly. If this was not done it’s not a train smash however, but now that you’re getting ready for summer the filter will need to be perfectly clean to ensure it effectively removes small debris and harmful bacteria.
Step 4 – Power Filtration System
Start your filter system up – ensure you prime the pump first before starting the motor. Also be sure to purge all the air from the plumbing and equipment. This is vital since air will become compressed during this procedure and it can cause damage or reduce effectiveness if any built up pressure is not released from the filter, pump, or chemical feeder.
Once the filter kicks in, any dirt, sand, algae, or other small debris will be vacuumed away.
Step 5 – Sanitise Water with Pool Chemicals
After you’ve removed any debris from your swimming pool, the next crucial step is to check the water chemistry to ensure it has the right balance so that harmful bacteria is destroyed and people can safely enjoy the water.
I have written extensive articles previously on pool chemicals, however do remember the following key advice:
· Don’t simply throw a bunch of chlorine or other such sanitising chemical into the water – use your testing kit to safely ascertain the correct pH levels, since overdoing the chemicals can in some cases stain your pool surface or damage it’s structural functions.
· If you’re struggling with correct chemical balance, you can always take a water sample from your pool to your local professional so it can be properly tested for pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness etc. They will be able to give you some sound advice to get you on the right track, so be sure to follow the procedure they describe.
· Allow the water to circulate for at least 8-12 hours after you add the relevant chemicals so that they have enough time to effectively mix with the water in the pool.
Step 6 – Additional Safety Measures
Apart from ensuring your pool water is sanitised and has the right chemical balance, another important safety measure is to inspect any handrails and ladders installed on your pool for wear and damage.
A good tip if you have stainless steel rails is to apply a little car wax on them, since this will help protect against corrosion.
Also inspect the diving board if you have one – it needs to be free of stress cracks and it should have a non-skid surface. If the surface has been worn smooth in the past, this can be simply corrected using a refinishing kit.
Step 7 – Clean Pool Tiles
There are dedicated pool tile cleaning agents available from specialists, but if you do not have any to hand you can always wipe the pool tiles with baking soda. Do not use household cleaners (especially abrasives) to clean the tiles, as you don’t want these types of chemicals in the pool water because they can cause skin and eye irritations to swimmers.
The above guide explains the six crucial steps to take so that your swimming pool both looks great and is safe for swimming. One of the key measures is to make sure your pool chemicals are balanced correctly, so if in doubt, do consult a professional.
About the Author: Andrew Astonville is an independent advisor on pool chemicals.