3 Often Overlooked Steps in Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance
Routine maintenance is crucial to keeping your pool or hot tub in top shape and can translate to spending less time and money on your backyard oasis. Even with the best intentions, we often see 3 areas that fall off pool owners’ check list.
1. Brush the interior surface of your pool every week
One of the most fundamental chores that is overlooked is brushing the entire interior surface once a week. Most pool owners have skipped over this task for many reasons, primarily due to the advent of “automatic” pool cleaners. Many have been led to believe that the “automatic” pool cleaner does it all. That’s a misnomer. Although automatic pool cleaners for the most part do a very good job of removing physical debris from the pool, there are a few underlying concerns in not brushing the pool. One common issue is the development of bio-films, molds, slimes and algae, which get a foothold on the surfaces, begin colonizing and can spread rampantly, causing high demand for sanitizers, algaecides and a lot more time to rid the culprits from the pool. If brushing is done at least once a week, you can prevent these unwanted intruders from getting a foothold in your pool.
2. Purge your plumbing
The plumbing of your pool or hot tub should be periodically “purged”. Purging is a process using enzymes, which during the purging process will loosen up any bio-films that have built up in your pumps, filters and related plumbing. This process should be done on a pool once in the spring prior to the swim season and again in the fall before closing up your pool. For hot tubs, purging should be done 3 to 4 times a year.
3. Give regular attention to your pool gear
Surface skimmer(s) and pump(s) strainer baskets:
They can fill up quickly during the spring and fall, and may obstruct the flow of water to the pump, causing unnecessary and expensive repairs or replacements. Additionally, the physical organic debris (such as leafs, flower pedals, twigs, and critters) can become a health hazard as the chlorine or bromine may not be adequate enough to disinfect the water in the skimmer throat or pump housing.
Mechanical time clocks:
If your pool or hot tub is utilizing a mechanical time clock, it is important to inspect the time clock on-off trippers for proper settings. As time goes on, the “trippers” can get loose and slip, causing the clock to be out of the desired run times. If you have multiple pumps using the mechanical clock, it’s even more crucial to keep them in sync to avoid the pump running dry and burning out prematurely. Make sure the clock is running while the pool or hot tub is being used to filter out the contaminants as they are introduced to the water. The rule of thumb is to run the filtration pump 1 hour a day for every 10 degrees of water or ambient temperature. For instance, 80 degrees would translate to a run time of 8 hours per day.
There are three primary types of filters:
· Cartridge types use pleated elements (cartridges) and filter out most of the physical impurities.
· Diatomaceous Earth (D.E. for short) uses elements made of a cloth material, which is stretched and sewn onto plastic rib-type frames.
· Hi-Rate Sand filtration, which uses either a fine sand (generally 20 mesh) or a recycled glass as the filtering media.
All three need some routine maintenance. A cartridge or D.E. filter should be broken down and thoroughly rinsed of the physical matter. Then soak or spray on a filter detergent designed for this purpose. Do not use household degreasers or other similar products.
Sand filters require specific cleaning processes so you should follow the manufacturers’ recommendations. You typically need to replace the sand media approximately every 5 to 7 years.
You’ll find it on top of the filter tank and its job is to let you know when it’s time to clean the filter system. If the gauge reads lower than normal, it is an indication of a possible loss of flow in your filter system. And if the gauge does not drop to zero when the system is off, the gauge may be defective.
Use an approved tile soap and tile scrubber or brush to clean the tile and aid in preventing scum or scale from building up at the tile line and above.
Testing kits or test strip:
Store them in a cool and dry area (preferably in your home) as they ARE sensitive to adverse temperatures: they will go stale and give inaccurate readings. Don’t forget to replace the testing solutions (reagents) annually. Test strips have a predetermined shelf life and should be replaced upon the date stamp.
Hot tub covers:
Those hardtop covers are expensive and should last years if properly maintained. There are a few things you will need to do 3-4 times a year to preserve their quality. Use an approved hot tub cover or hot tub surface cleaner to remove the grime and stains. Then use an approved cover preserver, such as a product called 303 vinyl and cover care.
The pool or hot tub surrounding decks:
Keep the surfaces free of debris. Debris will make its way into the pool if left unattended and increase your maintenance time and chemical expenses.
Although many of these items (poles, nets, brushes) are designed to be used in water and outdoors, they should be stored out of direct sunlight and off the decks as UV will more than likely deteriorate the tool much earlier than its expected lifespan. Not to mention a child (or you) tripping over them, hurting yourself and damaging the tool.
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