Updated: Jan 2
Many things in life can be avoided or procrastinated long enough and we may not see the poor results until much farther down the road; however, pool maintenance is not one of those things - Just try leaving a pool unattended for 2 weeks in the Arizona heat and you'll see just what we mean. Fortunately, most maintenance mistakes can be avoided with a little bit of education and can save you more than just money.
1. Adding Shock Directly Into The Skimmer
Pool shock is nothing more than concenrated chlorine, with the two main types of shock being granulated trichlor and liquid chlorine. Granulated trichlor is nothing more than 3 inch chlorine tablets crushed up into a granular size to allow much faster dissolving time in order to raise your free chlorine level quickly - This means it also includes the same binding byproducts as the chlorine tablets and why we recommend liquid chlorine for most shocking unless you are specifically fighting alage, in which case trichlor will be the best route.
Whichever product you choose to use, it should be administered while the pool system is running and directly along the pool water line, rather than in the skimmer. When any shock is added to the skimmer basket, you are introducing very high concentrated levels of chlorine directly into your pool equipment, which will prematurely wear down the equipment and can be an expensive repair.
2. Not Cleaning Your Pool Filter Often Enough
Pool filters are the unsung heros of the pool equipment world that are responsible for keeping your water clean and clear when maintained properly. Similar to your house air filter, when proper cleaning is not performed on a consistent basis you have less flow, which places undue strain on pool equipment and returns debris particles back into your pool water. If you own a Sand filter, it's as simple as backwashing your filter every 30 days to remove debris in order to keep things running optimally.
For those with a Cartrdige or D.E. filter, this entails breaking down the filter every 6 months and cleaning the cartridges/grids. For D.E. filters it also entails the extra step of adding D.E. Powder to recharge the grids. These are high presuure systems however, so we encourage you to do your research or consult a professional before attempting yourself to avoid injury.
3. Not Testing Your Pool Water Weekly
A swimming pool may very well be one of the biggest investements a homeowner makes without even realizing it. As the price of new pool construction and remodel work continues to rise every year, the importance of keeping your exisiting swimming pool in good shape cannot be understated. And the number one culprit to equipment failure and surface damage is not staying on top of pool water chemistry.
Pool water should be tested weekly to ensure you are staying within the proper Free Chlorine and pH ranges. Over chlorinating leads to premature wear on equipment, while under-chlorinating leads to algae build up. When it comes to pH balancing, too low and you have very acid pool water which leads to premature erosion of grout and corroded fixtures like ladders and diving boards. High pH leads to cloudy water and scaling on pool equipment.
4. Not Running You Pool Equipment Long Enough
Your pool filter cannot do it's job if it is not running. The only time your pool is circulating water through the filtration system is when you have programmed it to run. And as tempting as it may be to reduce the length of run time to save on electricy, you are doing you and your pool a disservice by doing so.
The minimum schedule a pool pump should be operating at each day is 8 hours. This will allow enough time for the average size swimming pool to circulate the water through your filter. This can be done in 8-hour stretches, or split up into two 4-hour stretches throughout the day and will ensure your water is not becomming stagnant due to lack of circulation.
5. Not Brushing Your Pool Weekly
Not brushing your pool weekly is similar to not brushing your teeth daily - no one will want to come close in either scenario. Aside from maintaining proper free chlorine levels, brushing is the single most effective way to prevent against alage buildup.
Owning a pool vacuum cleaner or having a pop up cleaning system is not enough to keep your pool clean. These systems are designed to keep the floors of your pool clean but very rarely can effectively clean the walls and steps of your pool, opening up your surface to opportunities for growth to build. Make this a weekly habit and you will be in good shape.
6. Not Testing Your Total Dissolved Solids Yearly (TDS)
Total Dissolved Solids essentially tells you the "age" of your pool water - not in years but in everything that has entered the pool water since being added. This ranges from total chemicals added, to dissolved organic material, to suntan lotion and pet hair, to overall frequency of the pool use. Once this TDS level reaches critical mass, your chemicals will begin to fail to hold or you will be using double the chemicals normally require for proper maintenance.
Pool owners will generally get 2-3 years out of their pool water before their TDS levels reach a point that neccessiates draining and refilling with fresh water. We recommend pool owners testing in the cooler months as it is best to drain swimming pools in cooler temps to avoid cracking or issues with the pool surface during the process. If in doubt, always contact your local pool professional.