Owning a swimming pool is a privilege, however, there are some duties and responsibilities that accompany this privilege. Besides installing the pool, one needs to pay constant attention to the pool, for it to remain in good condition for years to come. Pool maintenance is essential and cannot be neglected. Even if the pool is used by family members alone, it has to be cleaned on a regular basis. Swimming pools are open water systems, exposed to rain, snow, debris, insects, etc. Fallen leaves and other organic matter in the pool eventually decompose and attract bacteria. Waterborne illnesses such as amoebic dysentery, typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis, and gastroenteritis are commonly spread through pool water. Moreover, pool staining, cloudy water, pungent chlorine smell, algal build-up and itchy eyes are some other commonly associated problems with pools. Such problems can be reduced by proper maintenance of the swimming pool.Pool maintenance is something that has to be carried out throughout the year, irrespective of the pool type, and whether it is being used or not. Various swimming pool maintenance guides are available in the market which provide in-depth instructions, regarding the maintenance of the pool.

pH Level: Maintaining the right water balance is very important. The pH level is the measure of acidity or alkalinity and needs to be tested twice a week. The pH level in the pool water must be slightly alkaline, that is a pH of around 7.2 to 7.6, must be maintained. It is at this pH level that chlorine is most effective. Moreover, this level is similar to the pH of our skin. It can be controlled by adding either an acid, such as muriatic acid, or an alkali such as soda ash or baking soda. The addition of alkali or acid will depend on whether the water is too acidic or too alkaline. Incorrect pH levels can lead to damage of the pool and pool equipment.

Chlorine Level: Sanitizing the pool is equivalent to sterilizing the pool, whereby, bacterial and algal forms can be destroyed. Inadequately sanitized pools can become breeding grounds for bacteria. These bacteria and algae forms can be eliminated by using chlorine. Even bromine can be used to disinfect the pool. The level of ‘free’ chlorine that has to be maintained in the pool is 1.0-3.0 ppm. Chlorine is available in tablet, granular or liquid form and all work in the same manner. Since chlorine levels do not remain constant, it is advisable to super chlorinate (add 3-4 times the daily chlorine amount) the pool regularly. It is best to super chlorinate at night, when the pool is not in use.

Check Skimmer Basket: The skimmer basket must be checked and cleared of debris, so as to ensure fresh and circulating pool water. Debris such as leaves, insects, bird droppings and other dirty substances must be cleared from the surface of the pool by using a surface skimmer or leaf net. Leaves and other debris present at the bottom of the pool must be cleared by using ‘leaf bagger or leaf net’. The pool tiles must also be cleaned, to clear rings and scum lines, with the help of liquid or powdered tile cleansing agents.

Shock Treatment: Shock treatment is important to destroy combined chlorine compounds (free chlorine is required, not combined). Shock treatment packages are available in local pool shops. According to the instructions on the package, the pool can be ‘shocked’ during the evenings. This not only raises the level of free chlorine in the pool, but also destroys germs and leaves the pool sparkling and attractive.

Algaecide Addition: To control algal contaminants, the pool must be given a dose of algaecide, once a week. This should preferably be done the morning after the shock treatment. Good quality algaecide destroy the algae without damaging the pool tiles.

Metal Out Addition: Often tiny metal particles are found suspended on the pool water surface. They surpass the filtration system, however, can be eliminated by adding a weekly dose of ‘Metal Out’ to the pool water. ‘Metal Out’ is a chemical that removes metal particles from the water

Clarifier Addition: The annoying cloudy water problem can be resolved by adding a dose of clarifier to the pool water. Particles that are too small to be caught in the filters, can be discarded by the clarifying agents. Clarifying agents make the tiny particles stick to each other, to form larger particles. These larger particles can then be discarded by vacuuming or filtration.

Calcium Level: Water too low in calcium becomes corrosive, while water high in calcium results in scale formation. This is why checking the calcium hardness is very important. This test has to be conducted at a local pool store, as the standard testing kit does not test for calcium hardness. A sample of the pool water needs to be taken to the local pool shop and tested.

Alkalinity: Correct total alkalinity will prevent sudden changes in the pH levels of the pool water. 80-120 ppm is what the total alkalinity must be, which can be adjusted by the addition of baking soda.

Swimming pool filters are prone to accumulate oil and grease, and have to be cleaned by using a ‘filter cleanser degreaser’.

For people who find pool cleaning time-consuming and cumbersome, various professional swimming pool maintenance companies are available. These crews come home with the necessary equipment and chemicals. They conduct all the tests, skim the surface, remove the debris, and also vacuum the pool, if required. One can even opt for inbuilt vacuuming systems or use robotic vacuuming units. Chemical control units are also available, which regularly test the water chemistry and fix the balance automatically. However, all these pool accessories and professional assistance will prove expensive. To reduce the cost of swimming pool maintenance, one can opt for swimming pool covers, such as solar covers or safety covers. These covers will not only provide safety and heat preservation, but will also keep the debris away from the pool water. Moreover, they also prevent the chemicals in the water from evaporating.