Owning a swimming pool can be a tremendous benefit. Not only will your yard look beautiful with this inviting pool of water, but you will also have added quite a bit to the resale value of your home. The only problem with swimming pools (after their high installation prices) is that they can be difficult to maintain.
Many people wonder, how often does a pool need maintenance, or is it expensive to maintain a pool? We have all these answers and more in our ultimate guide on pool maintenance. Here is how to maintain a pool like a pro!
What Pool Parts Will Need My Attention
In order to properly maintain a pool, you must understand how it works. There are a few key systems that are incorporated into the way that your pool works. If you can get a basic understanding of how these systems work, you can get your pool maintenance down to a science. Here are the four parts of a pool you must understand and maintain.
The pool water will be the most obvious thing that requires your attention. In addition to keeping large particles out of the water, you will also need to make sure that the water stays clear and healthy to swim in. Green pool water has algae or bacteria that are not safe to swim in. In addition, the proper chlorine level needs to be maintained in the pool as well.
Interior Wall or Liner
The interior sides of the pool are going to need quite a bit of attention as well. You will want to make sure that these surfaces do not have any leaks, that there is no algae, and that your pool is not collecting any stains or marks because of improper pool maintenance.
The pool filter system is going to be your best friend when it comes to maintenance. If you know how to work your filter and set it properly, you can make sure that it keeps your pool water clean without much intervention. Pool filters keep the water moving, and they will help properly clean smaller particles and debris out of the water. The filter can be used in combination with a vacuum to keep the pool functioning and swimmable at all times.
Skimmers and Returns
A skimmer is the part of your pool that will take the debris off the top layer. Skimmers are not the same as a handheld skimmer. These are used to help keep the surface of the pool clean and debris free. The skimmers and returns are relatively simple to work, and they will again do a great job of keeping water moving and debris out of the pool.
Important Steps in Proper Pool Maintenance
Regardless of whether you are dealing with above ground pool maintenance or inground pool maintenance, you will need to follow certain steps to make sure the pool stays in good condition.
Without proper water circulation, you are going to have a hard time keeping your water clean. The idea is to keep the water moving as much as possible. This is where the pool pump and pool filter come into play. Many homeowners wonder about how long they should keep their pool filter running each day.
The pool filtration system keeps your water moving. When water stops moving, it is much more susceptible to growing bacteria and experiencing issues with algae. The pool filtration system will help to keep the pool water chemistry in check as well.
Run your pool filter for about 10 to 12 hours a day in season. When you are off-season, and the sun is not so strong on the water, you may be ok with letting it run for 6-8 hours. At the first sign of algae growth, you may have to increase the time the filtration system is kept on.
Water chemistry is a major part of proper pool maintenance. To properly maintain your water, you are going to need to check the levels quite often. A pool test kit will let you know what the levels are like and if you need to adjust with any chemicals. Pool chemistry tests will give you an idea of how much chlorine is in the pool and whether or not the pH is at the proper level. If you want crystal clear water, your pool chemistry needs to be balanced.
Here are some of the key levels that you will need to maintain in your pool.
- pH: the pH should range between 7.4 and 7.6; when pH is off, it will impact other chemicals and cause your pool to look cloudy
- Alkalinity: ideal alkalinity is 125ppm; if you happy to be between 100ppm and 150ppm, that is still considered within the range
- Chlorine: chlorine needs to remain between 1ppm and 3ppm in a typical chlorine pool
- Calcium Hardness: around 200ppm is going to be ideal
Keeping a pool water chemistry kit within arm’s reach is essential. We recommend testing your pool water two times per week. If you had a rainstorm or some unseasonably warm weather, it is important to check the pool’s water chemistry more often.
Leaving leaves and debris in the pool’s skimmer basket or on the bottom of the pool will cause water chemistry issues.
Pool Cleaning Schedule
To properly maintain a pool, you will need a pool cleaning schedule. You should not wait for your pool to look like something out of a swamp move before deciding that it needs to be cleaned. Pools should be cleaned once a week. If you happen to have a storm or a large party, you may want to clean the pool more often.
When you clean the pool, you will want to follow the following steps to ensure that everything stays in great shape.
Test the Water
Test the water with your pool chemistry kit before vacuuming your pool. If you need to add chemicals, you will want to know about it before you finish your pool cleaning.
Use a pool vacuum to clean up any debris that may be on the bottom of the pool. Use the vacuum to clean the steps of the pool as well. If you have an automatic pool vacuum, we recommend setting it to run every other day. These vacuums can help to keep your pool much cleaner without you having to put in more time. Always make sure you check the filter bag on the pool vacuums so that they don’t get clogged with debris before they finish their job.
Scrub the Sides
Even after vacuuming your pool, you will want to scrub the sides with a pool brush. If you have a vinyl pool, make sure the brush you use can handle vinyl without doing any damage. Scrubbing the pool will break up any algae or debris, making it easier to create a perfect water balance.
Clean Area Around the Pool
The area around the pool is often overlooked. Whether you have a deck or a patio, you will want to clean the area around the pool. This may take some sweeping or the use of a landscape blower but keeping the debris around the pool from going in the pool is important. If you notice any mold growing around the pool area, be sure to hit it with a bit of bleach as well. The area around the pool needs to stay safe for safety reasons as well.
If you know that you will be out of town during the swim season, make sure that you have someone who can come and complete the pool clean for you. It isn’t easy to get the chlorine levels and cloudy water cleaned up after the fact. If you want to prevent algae and dirty water long term, you must stay on top of the pool cleaning schedule. If you can’t keep up with this, then you must hire a company that can handle it.
You probably noticed that we didn’t mention cleaning the pool skimmer baskets as part of the weekly maintenance. There is a reason behind this. You should be cleaning your skimmer baskets more than just weekly!
Depending on the location of your skimmer basket, you should be cleaning it out every other day. If your pool happens to be in a location where many trees are surrounding the area, the skimmer basket will fill up rather quickly. It takes about one minute of your time to check a skimmer basket and empty it out. Certainly, to keep your pool clean, you can spare an extra minute a few times a week.
Shocking the pool is something that many pool owners forget to do. You do not need to save the pool shock for the time that your pool turns bright green. In fact, you are much better off shocking your pool more often to keep it from turning green.
In the summer, when your backyard pool is filled with neighborhood children and all your relatives that need to purchase their own pool, you will shock the pool about once a week. You can go to every other week if your pool does not see all that much use.
Pool shock is much more effective when it is put in the pool at night. If you put the shock in the pool during the middle of the day, the sun will burn it off rather quickly. Shocking a pool may still not get your water crystal clear, but it certainly helps to make it safer to swim.
Your pool equipment is going to need maintenance as well. The tools that are working to help you keep your pool cleaner will need to be checked on. Depending on what type of pool filter you have, there is general pool filter maintenance that will need to be conducted.
If you have a sand filter, you will need to perform a backwash every other week or so during the prime season. This will help to make sure the filter is clean and ready to monitor the water properly.
Those with a cartridge filter will need to remove the filter and rinse it from time to time. This process is not all that difficult, but it is essential if you want the water filtration system to work to the best of its ability.
Pool vacuums should be serviced from time to time. Take them out of the pool and check to ensure all of the fittings and parts work as they should. This will significantly impact the longevity of the pool cleaning equipment that you purchase.
Don’t save pool equipment maintenance for the beginning and end of the season; you will want to give it more attention than this.
What Tools Will I Need for Proper Pool Maintenace
Swimming pool maintenance is not something that you will be able to do completely on your own. You will need some tools to help you get through this process. Luckily most of the tools to help you clean your pool are rather affordable, and they do a great job for the price you pay.
A pool skimmer will help you keep the surface of the pool free of debris. If you have a larger pool you will need a skimmer with a telescoping pole. Ensure that the pole you purchase to use with your skimmer has plenty of weight and stability; otherwise, you will have to empty the skimmer each time you use it.
Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net, Heavy Duty Leaf Rake Cleaning Tool, Fine Mesh Net Bag Catcher
- POOL LEAF RAKE: Strong and durable frame with rounded borders and mesh net bag. Long lasting accessory for the easiest pool maintenance.
- MULTIFUNCTION: Pool leaf cleaner with deep fine mesh bag handles both big clean-ups and small debris like leaves with just few passes.
- STURDY DESIGN: Universal holder fits any telescopic pole to extend your reach and pick leaves from the bottom of pool (pole not included).
This Stargoods pool skimmer net is a great choice because it captures the debris in a basket. Don’t forget to purchase the pole that you will need to get those hard to reach areas on the other side of the pool.
Brushing the side of the pool will keep algae and bacteria from growing. If you have a vinyl linger on your pool, you must make sure that you use a designated pool brush so that there are no issues with damage to the liner.
Swimming Pool Wall & Tile Brush,18″ Polished Aluminum Back Cleaning Brush Head Designed for Cleans Walls
- 💙【Premium Quality & Multi-scene use】Lalapool 18" Aluminium Swimming Pool Cleaning Brush is made of high quality aluminum and ABS plastic for maximum strength and durability, and high-density nylon...
- 💙【Flexible & Strong】Designed with poly bristles to help reach the toughest corners,metal backing provides enough strength to thoroughly clean pool walls.
- 💙【Wide Sweep Area】Measuring 18" wide, the Wall Brush Deluxe provides a large sweep area for quicker cleaning.Curved edges allow for brushing along corners. Fits standard extension pool poles.
The Swimming Pool Wall and Tile Brush is a perfect choice for scrubbing the sides of your pool. The longer size helps to make this a quicker project, and the brushes are soft enough for use on a vinyl liner.
Pool Test Kit
A pool test kit is essential for testing the pool water and water chemistry. Find a kit that gives you the proper levels and plenty of material to test your pool for at least the entire season. Choosing something that is easy to see will also ensure that you don’t make any mistakes with your pool maintenance.
Poolmaster Essential Collection Chemistry Case 5-Way Swimming Pool & Spa Water Test Kit
- For maintaining proper water chemistry
- Tests for five chemical factors: Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid Demand, and Total Alkalinity
The Poolmaster Essential Collection Kit is a great choice for those that want something simple and affordable. You can use this kit to get your pool chemicals tested in less than five minutes. It is easy to read and gives you a guide for the proper levels you are trying to obtain.
A pool vacuum comes in three different types. You can get a manual vacuum, an automatic, or a robotic pool vacuum. The automatic and robotic will make it easy to clean the bottom and sides of your pool even when you are not home. The manual is going to be much less money, but it will cost you your time. There is no right and wrong answer for the best pool vacuum, and it could take a bit of research to find the right one. If you are unsure of the best pool vacuums on the market, check out our guide here.
Pool Maintenance Tips
We have given you a pretty good rundown on how to take care of a swimming pool. Let’s look at a few more tips that will make this process a bit easier and potentially more effective as well.
- Always shock a pool at night, so the sun does not eat up the chlorine in the shock
- If your pool is going through a large amount of chlorine, check the stabilizer
- Brushing the pool walls is essential to keep algae away
- Don’t save shocking the pool for when the pool is green
- For a cloudy pool, sometimes baking soda can do the trick
- Follow all necessary steps for opening and closing of a pool to make year-long maintenance much easier
- Powerwash area around the pool once per year if possible
- If you have an algae breakout, don’t forget to wash all of the pool cleaning equipment
- Automatic pool testing kit options can help those that don’t remember to test their pool
- pH levels are just as important to test as chlorine levels
- Try test strips if a pool chemistry test kit is not the right fit for you
- Proper pool care will give you more time in your pool
Pool Maintenance FAQ
Now that you have a basic understanding of all that is involved in proper pool care let’s take a look at some questions that pool owners tend to have.
How Do Above Ground and Inground Pool Maintenance Differ?
The only major difference between the two is that you will need more hose, a longer telescoping pole, and a vacuum to handle deep water for the inground pool. Without these tools, you may not be able to get to the bottom of the pool. Another difference you will notice is the cost. If your above ground pool needs a bit of chlorine, chances are it will be much cheaper than adding chlorine to a larger pool.
How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Pool?
The cost to maintain a pool will vary depending on where you are located and the type of pool that you own. For the most part, you have to consider the cost of equipment, chemicals, and electricity. If you have a large pool, you can expect that it will cost around $3000 a year to maintain and run the pool. For smaller pools, the price of pool care could be closer to $500.
Is It Worth Paying for Swimming Pool Maintenance Services?
A swimming pool maintenance company will come to your home once a week and handle your pool maintenance for you which is very convenient. For those that have a hard time paying for chemicals and electricity on the pool, the pool maintenance company will be a large expense.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $125-$225 a month for your pool maintenance services. The problem with this is that it won’t cover the costs of chemicals as well; those will all be additional. Most pool owners find that purchasing an automatic vacuum and learning how to balance chemicals is the best way to make pool care affordable and easy.
Swimming Pool Maintenance Overview
Swimming pool maintenance takes a bit of time to learn and perfect. After some time, you will learn how your pool works and what it needs to stay clear. Having cloudy or green pool water is extremely disappointing. However, if you stay on top of pool maintenance, you should not have to worry about this all that often. If you struggle to remember to take care of the pool, set reminders for yourself so that you don’t forget this important process. Another good thing to do is purchase a great pool vacuum that will make the process a bit more hands-off. Now get out there and start taking care of your pool!
For over 15 years, Sean Moore has been sharing his love and enthusiasm for swimming pools and hot tubs with everyone he knows. His goal is to help everyday people DIY their maintenance to save money by teaching how to properly take care of your equipment, safely and correctly balance chemicals, and extend the life of your water oasis.
Pricing on this page was last updated on 2023-12-04