When it comes to Florida new home living, nothing sounds more refreshing than taking a nice dip in the privacy of your own swimming pool. It provides the perfect opportunity to have friends and family over for fun in the sun! Taking the time to properly prepare and maintain your pool will go a long way towards helping you enjoy your pool. Some homeowners are fortunate to keep their pools open all-year long. If you happen to travel, or live here seasonally, read on. The following best practices can help with pool openings.
Clean Any Debris
Before opening the pool, give the entire area a thorough inspection. Trim back any hedges and sweep away loose leaves to make the area look presentable. Inspect all equipment and pool features to ensure they are safe for family and friends to use (replace in case there is any damage). You will want to make sure all decorative and functional features in your personalized environment properly work to make your pool area ready for entertainment.
Waterscapes Pools & Spas offers options that can be built into your pool area for entertaining guests. You will also want to make them a part of this cleaning process to maintain the environment. You can entice family and friends to step outside with decorative pavers and enjoy a cookout with an outdoor kitchen and seating areas. If you want a spot ideal for lounging in the pool, sun shelves are another popular option.
Handle Your Pool Covers
Pool cover removals are normally an integral part of pool openings as they prevent rainwater and other debris from contaminating the water (and making it more of a hassle to clean). Pool cage enclosures are a popular option in place of pool covers in Florida as they prevent debris, materials and even wildlife from entering the area. While this is helpful, you will still want to clean the cage off as the buildup of leaves and overgrowth can look unsightly. Pressure washers can also help greatly if you need to clean any grime. If you notice the growth of any mold, make sure to use the proper cleaners to eliminate the issue.
Another popular swimming pool feature Waterscapes offers is liquid pool covers. These covers provide a thin layer on top of water that is invisible to our eyes. While you’ll need to add this in on a regular basis, you only need to pour it into the pool where it will then disperse. This cover traps in heat and prevents evaporation that typically occurs with traditional covers. Additionally, liquid covers are designed for use with filters so they will not be damaged. It is also safe to swim in pools using these covers as they separate in moving water and will reform when the water is still.
Fill the Pool to Appropriate Levels
The next step for pool openings is to fill it to the appropriate water level in case you drain some of the pool water in times where it may not see too much use. Take a hose and fill the pool until it is above the midway point in the skimmer opening. Reaching the appropriate water level also allows you to clean any debris at the pool’s bottom (use of a pool vacuum is recommended).
During hurricane season, experts recommend draining the water level by one or two feet. Water weighs a pool down, preventing strong winds from lifting it from the foundation. If a hurricane or heavy storm is coming, this reduced level normally provides enough of a cushion to prevent water damage to surrounding structures before the water can run off naturally.
While you need to regularly check your pool’s water level, a popular option Waterscapes customers add in is an autofill feature. This connects a swimming pool’s water supply and fills the water level to a set limit. Leveraging this feature means you will have one less task to handle and cut down on the time it takes for proper pool maintenance. This is especially helpful for customers living in Florida part-time, erasing any worry about the water level dropping too much.
While getting to the right water level brings you one step closer to diving into your pool, you still need to get your filter and pump ready. The filter is an essential piece of a pool’s plumbing system, trapping debris and keeping your pool water clean. Inspect your filter regularly and replace your drain plugs and pressure gauge if you notice any issues.
Once you prepare your filter, turn it on and make sure it is working correctly. Check for any leaks and drips and if you see the pump not pulling water, you can also prime it. This allows you to add water and remove any trapped air, creating a functional circulatory system. When ready, allow the filter to run between 12 – 24 hours, mixing up the new and old water before adding in any chemicals needed for your pool.
Waterscapes Pool and Spas finds cartridge filters to be especially beneficial for customers. These filters utilize cartridges that have water flow from the outside to a center core, allowing the cartridge’s folds to grab and trap debris. These filters can contain several cartridges, offer a high surface area and come in various sizes, making the pools they service very maintenance-friendly. Instead of backwashing, customers can remove the cartridges and clean them off with a hose, removing debris and dirt. Cartridge filters are simple to install, easy for homeowners to maintain and provide high-quality swimming water.
Test and Maintain Pool Water
The final step you’ll take for pool openings is testing the water. This is essential for maintaining a proper balance with a pool’s pH, chlorine, calcium hardness and alkalinity levels and obtaining the right chemicals for your pool.
- Start by obtaining testing strips from a kit (you can get ones testing each element separately or one that tests for all of them) and dip it into a sample of the water. You can see what the results mean on the test kit but if you feel uncertain, you can go to a pool store and speak with a professional there. You will also want to check levels after any bad storms as these can throw your chemical levels out of alignment.
- After obtaining the results, balance the alkalinity first and get it between 80 – 120 ppm with baking soda (to raise the level) or muriatic acid (to lower the level). Alkalinity maintains pool conditions and keeps the other levels in check, so it’s imperative you adjust this level to start.
- Balance the pH next, bringing it to a level between 7.4 – 7.6. pH levels use the same chemicals as your alkalinity. You can use baking soda to raise the pH and lower it with muriatic acid.
- After that, you need to balance calcium hardness, which can corrode pool surfaces if the level is too “soft” (under 200 ppm). For this, use calcium chloride but do not use too much all at once as it can increase this level rather quickly. Aim to keep calcium hardness between 200 – 400 ppm.
- Balance out your chlorine and bring it down to a level between 1 – 3 ppm. You can shock your pool, but Waterscapes recommends use of a saltwater chlorinator. These convert the salt from saltwater into chlorine. This chlorine level will not be as high, requiring no additional sanitizing chemicals normally used in chlorine pools. Waterscapes also found the saltwater generator option to be a popular option for customers buying a saltwater pool. These generators also possess the additional benefit of eliminating the “chlorine smell” that other chemical-laden pools normally possess.
Pool openings make for an exciting time, but some can find the process to be overwhelming. The key is to take opening slowly and make sure you work through each part of the process carefully. Make sure you also use the proper tools to eliminate some of the hassle and reduce the amount of time you have to spend in the heat instead of the refreshing water!