5 Pool Maintenance Tips

Gretchen Becker
Written by Gretchen Becker
Updated July 7, 2015
a container filled with swimming pool water testing supplies.
A complete chlorine pool and spa water test kit is one of the common trade tools used by pool specialists. (Photo by Frank Espich)

Confused about pool chemistry? Then read these tips from pool maintenance experts to safely maintain balanced water quality.

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It's important because unbalanced pool chemistry can lead to an algae-filled lagoon or a bacteria bath.

“There are a lot of people who don’t use their pools much, and as long as they can see the bottom, and it’s pretty clear, then they think it’s OK,” says James Ralston, owner of James A. Ralston Pool Maintenance in Wellington, Florida. “That’s not necessarily so.”

1. Pool treatment options

After decades of killing germs and eradicating algae, chlorine reigns as king of pool maintenance chemicals. “It’s really hard to avoid chlorine,” says Jeremy Buhl, sales manager at Suntime Pools West in Louisville, Kentucky. “Nothing can sanitize the water all by itself.”

Other options include salt chlorine generators, which use a mechanical system to create and distribute chlorine. These systems are winning the popularity contest in new pools, experts say, but a misconception exists that a saltwater pool eliminates chemicals and work.

Salt pools use more acid because the chlorine that it generates produces a higher pH level than traditional chlorine. Pool companies also equate the feel of using salt generators versus straight chlorine like using hard versus soft water in your home.

RELATED: How to Choose the Right Pool Cleaning Chemicals

Less popular options for home pools include ozone, ultraviolet systems and oxidation reduction potential systems that use light or machines to balance pool sanitization levels.

2. Pool equipment drawbacks

Every pool-cleaning system has downsides, whether it’s handling or measuring chemicals with a chlorine system, preventing salt’s corrosive nature on pool decks, plants and furniture, or the lack of effective testing for ozone, UV systems and oxidation reduction potential systems.

Because ozone is an invisible chemical and UV uses light, pool companies must rely on manufacturers’ guidelines to make sure these type of machines operate properly, says Mike Ulibarri, owner of Leak Finders in Chino, California. He says few companies understand how to install, let alone maintain, these uncommon systems.

Talk to an expert and make a list of pros and cons to help determine what’s best for you.

3. Climate matters in pool care

To keep your pool properly balanced and the water sparkling clean, you’ll need to add more chemicals and test it more often as the summer heats up and more people enjoy your pool, experts say.

What works in New Jersey for four months of the year won’t cut it year-round in South Florida, so know your surroundings or make sure your pool-service company understands how the local climate affects your pool.

Regularly test water to maintain proper pool chemical balance. (Photo courtesy of member James B. of Phoenix)

4. Pool maintenance cost concerns

“Chemicals are not cheap for anyone,” says Debra Swearingen, owner of Baylife Pool Service in Brandon, Florida. “Like anything else, you get what you pay for.”

More effective products, as well as those that are more environmentally friendly, cost more. Salt systems cost $1,000 to $2,000 to add to a pool. Every pool needs ongoing maintenance (especially winter pool maintenance) so keep that in mind when deciding whether to purchase one.

5. Finding the best pool professional

Don’t want to mess with upkeep but still want to enjoy a crystal-clear pool? Companies offer weekly service to vacuum, test, balance and add chemicals to the splash zone at your pad. Costs typically range from $70 to $200 a month, depending on where you live, what service you require, and the amount of chemicals added.

“If you have a swimming pool service and you never see them test your pool and they just pour some liquid chlorine in, you need to find a new pool service,” Swearingen says.

If you don’t want to pay someone to service your pool each week, companies recommend taking lessons and getting tips from experts at a local pool shop.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on September 9, 2014.

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