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Swimming pools are more than cemented holes in the ground. They need equipment to keep them running properly.
Keeping your pool well maintained is very important, as it may be your only escape from the summer’s heat. Without the proper maintenance, you’ll be sweating and wishing that you kept your pool clean.

Keeping your pool in tip-top shape requires a bit of work. A moldy film or uncomfortable water temperatures can ruin all the summer fun. And for the off seasons, protecting your pool can mean the difference between an easier upcoming summer and a big headache. Having the right pool supplies ensures healthy and enjoyable swimming.

Mainly, a pool needs maintenance equipment. The pool’s chemistry must be tested regularly to see if the pH levels need adjusting. You can buy kits to do this—each one has multiple test strips that you dip into the pool. Then you add the necessary chemicals. Chlorine is a regular addition, and can be added either with a liquid, or with a tablet that floats in a buoy to slowly dissolve.

A pool must also be kept clean with methods besides chlorination. In-ground pools usually have a filtration system built in that sucks in the water, cleans it, and recycles it into the pool.
Automatic pool cleaners are widely used—these look like underwater vacuum cleaners that suck up debris and water and clean up the pool.

Most regular pool maintenance can be easily performed without professional help. When more complicated issues arise or repairs are needed, it’s probably time to call in an expert, unless you are experienced in advanced pool maintenance.

Safety is another factor that must be considered in pool ownership. Pool safety equipment includes pool alarms for young children; water rescue equipment, like a lifesaver and pole; and fencing around the pool to keep out unauthorized visitors.

Here are some of the most common supplies all pool owners should have on hand at all times:

Skimmer
A skimmer is a netted device attached to a long pole that is used to remove topical pool dirt, such as leaves, dead insects, and tree droppings. All pools have skimmers built in to the side of the pool but they are often not powerful enough to absorb everything. The traditional skimmer requires a person to hold the pole and skim the surface by using a sweeping motion all around the pool. Newer devices are electronic and require no work at all. They stay in the pool and are constantly suctions in any debris. They are much more costly than the handheld kind ($15 versus $200.) The advantage of these skimmers is that they pick up dirt immediately, before it sinks to the ground. They also allow you to enjoy your time swimming rather than cleaning. A third option is to get a skimmer extension that attaches to your built-in skimmer. This increases debris absorption by directing the flow into the skimmer.

Vacuum
These are designed to absorb debris that has gathered at the bottom of the pool. They mechanical types consist of a vacuum head, hose, and brush. They’re easy to assemble and clean. They work by lowering the vacuum into the pool while sweeping it around the entire floor of the pool. If it becomes sluggish, it is probably clogged with leaves and needs to be cleaned before resuming. Like skimmers, there are also labor-free automatic devices that skim the pool floor automatically. Since these devices circulate haphazardly, most people use them when no one is in the pool

Chemicals
The basic chemicals would include chlorine tablets, pool shock, PH increase, and algaecide. You can buy these separately or packaged. The PH should be checked daily and chlorine added daily as well. If your pool has a green film, it’s time to use the algaecide. You can test the PH with a test kit and that will determine how much of each chemical to add. Keep in mind that many of these chemicals are toxic and should never be allowed anywhere near children.

Covers
There are safety pool covers that can be used daily to childproof your pool and keep out animals and debris. These are vinyl coverings that are draped over the entire pool and held down with weights around the perimeter. For fully winterizing your pool, the pool is heavily dosed with chemicals to preserve the water and then covered as well. Debris will collect on top of the cover and is removed before re-opening the pool. There are many companies that will winterize your pool for you.

Filter
Pool filters come in three different types – sand, diatomaceous earth (DE), and cartridge. In the first type, dirty water is filtered through sand. To clean this device, you reverse the process to collect the dirty water, and then dispose of it. If the sand gets particularly dirty, it is easy to replace it. DE filters operate similarly to sand filters but uses earth instead of sand. The advantage is that the substance is finer than sand and can trap miniscule particles. Cartridge filters are the least expensive and operate at a lower pressure than sand so they actually have a higher water flow. The inexpensive ones will need to be replaced every year or two but the sturdier units may last up to five years. They also require cleaning once or twice a season.

Why Use a Filter
Using some kind of filter system to clean and maintain a pool not only keeps your swimming pool esthetically pleasing and inviting, it also prevents harmful bacteria from forming algae. In addition, it will keep your pool from harboring germs that spread disease and will extend the life span of your pool.
Having a swimming pool in your backyard is a big investment of time, money and resources. Make sure you protect your investment and get the most enjoyment possible by cleaning and maintaining your pool. An efficient filtration system is the best way to accomplish this.

Purchasing a Swimming Pool Heater
A swimming pool heater is a very nice way to keep the swimming pool water warm during the winter and cold days. However, not all swimming pool heaters are the same.
Before you purchase and install a swimming pool heater, first do the following:
Evaluate how your pool heater is to be used
Determine the correct system size for your pool
Assess the extent of the pool’s solar resource (important for solar pool heaters)
Determine the system’s level of efficiency
Compare the costs of different swimming pool heaters.

Heaters
Consider the following types of swimming pool heaters: solar, gas, and heat. Each has its own advantages for the particular location and circumstances of your pool.

Solar Swimming Pool Heater
Solar swimming pool heaters work by pumping pool water through the filter and then into the solar collector, which collects heat from the sun.
The water is heated in the solar collector before returning to the pool. When the pool temperature nears the temperature of the solar collector, filtered water simply bypasses the collector and is returned to the pool. In hot climates, the collector can double function as a swimming pool cooler by pumping the water through the collector during cooler evening hours.

The cost for solar pool heater is comparable to that of gas and heat pump pool heaters, but solar pool heaters have very low annual operating costs as the water is heated by the sun. This makes them incredibly cost-effective. Solar collectors also last longer than gas and heat pump pool heaters.

Gas Swimming Pool Heater
Gas swimming pool heaters pump pool water into the filter and then into the heater. The gas, which can be either natural or propane, burns in the heater’s combustion chamber. The heat generated in the combustion chamber is transferred to the water, and then returned to the pool.

The gas swimming pool heater is the most popular type of pool heater. Unlike pools warmed by heat pump and solar pool heaters, the temperature of a gas-heated pool can be controlled and consistent, regardless of the weather. Gas swimming pool heaters are also most efficient for short periods, making them ideal for quickly heating pools.

Heat Pump Swimming Pool Heater
The swimming pool water is pumped into the filter and then into the heat pump heater, which contains a fan that draws in the outside air and directs it over to the evaporator coil. The liquid refrigerant within the coil turns the outside air into gas, which then passes through a compressor that produces heat. The resulting hot gas heats up the water in the heater, and the water is returned to the swimming pool. As long as the temperature remains above 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, heat pump swimming pool heaters offer an energy-efficient way to heat swimming pools.

Proper Care Ensures Long Life for Vinyl Pool Liners
Homeowners with backyard swimming pools depend on vinyl pool liners to keep their pools looking beautiful season after season. Nearly 70 percent of the residential pools in the United States rely on durable and easy to clean printed flexible vinyl to protect the interior pool surface from environmental elements and manmade conditions. From sunlight and temperature fluctuation to chemicals and careless cleaning, this surface is exposed to numerous hazards. The most common causes of damage to vinyl pool liners are premature pattern wear due to abrasive cleaning tools and bleaching due to improper chemical balance. These two factors, exclusively or in combination, can attack the vinyl liner and cause premature aging.

If you’re one of the five million North American homeowners fortunate enough to have a pool with a vinyl liner, follow these simple tips to lengthen its years of service:

Chemical Maintenance
Prior to installation, read and follow the chemical manufacturers’ directions. Many liner problems are a result of misuse of chemicals.
When adding chemicals, add one chemical at a time.
Add each dissolved chemical through the skimmer for best dispersion into the pool (through the filtration system).
Maintain proper water balance: pH in the range of 7.2 to 7.6; total alkalinity at 80 to 100 ppm; and calcium hardness at 200 to 300 ppm.
Keep free chlorine, the most common active ingredient that sanitizes the pool, at 1.5 to 2.5 ppm. If the concentration drifts below 1.5 ppm, algae and bacterial growth can take hold more easily and may cause staining of the vinyl liner. If the active chlorine concentration is maintained greater than 2.5 ppm, liner wrinkling may occur. This problem can be further aggravated if accompanied by pH levels that fall below 7.0.

Seasonal Care
Avoid the use of any abrasive cleaning agents or cleaning aids.
Vacuum and clean the pool with a cleaner designed for vinyl lined pools.
Never use sharp objects in or around the pool as they can puncture the liner.
After the chemicals have dissipated, cover your pool when it’s not in use. This will decrease its exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays. Fewer chemicals are required if your pool is covered or not used. To avoid high concentrations of airborne chemicals building up between the water and the cover, open or vent the cover every 24 hours.
Do not drain the pool completely for any reason without consulting a pool professional.
The older the liner, the higher the risk that it will shrink and not stretch back into its original shape.
Never close a pool without circulating the pool water for several hours after the addition of chemicals.

Common Pool Problems
Most pool equipment built by reputable manufacturers comes with safety features that can halt its operation. If the heater is not working, it’s possible that one of these safety features has engaged. Call a pool professional to diagnose the problem.

Anything mechanical occasionally needs maintenance. If your pool cover isn’t working, perhaps something is jammed. Or a safety feature on the motor has engaged. Smaller pool cover rips can be fixed. Check with your manual to see what is the best way to repair it. You may need to replace the cover if the rip is larger. It also may be easier to replace the fabric on automatic pool covers.

If the filtration system is not working it is possibly another situation where one of the safety features on the motor has engaged. It could also be a chemical imbalance in the water. Call a pool professional to diagnose the problem.

Broken tile can be replaced. Call a pool professional.

A flaking pool surface can be a sign that a concrete pool needs resurfacing with plaster. It’s a time-consuming job that requires a pool professional.

Smaller pool surface cracks due to impact can be patched. If it’s a structural crack, you may have serious problems. If this is the case, patching the crack will do nothing because it will crack again. You may need to replace the entire pool.

The Pump Won’t Prime
If this is a problem, it could be due to a number of reasons:
There is no water in the strainer.
The strainer pot lid fastened correctly The lid o-ring is damaged.
Water levels are below the skimmer.
The strainer basket or skimmer basket is clogged.
The valve in the piping system is closed.
The pump is on low speed (two-speed units only).
There may be an air leak in the suction line

High Filter Pressure (Low Flow)
The filter may be dirty. There is a restriction in the return line or the result of a bad pressure gauge.

Low Filter Pressure (Low Flow)
Possible causes of low flow, low filter pressure:
Strainer basket or skimmer basket is clogged.
Restriction in suction line. Air leak in suction line.
Clogged pump impeller Bad pressure gauge.

The Motor Won’t Turn
Here are some possible reasons for your motor problems:
The power switch is turned off.
The pump is in “off” mode of a timer controlled circuit Motor connections are mixed.
The motor shaft is locked
The impeller is obstructed by debris.

Common Swimming Pool Water Problems
Water is classified as either surface water or ground water.

Surface Water
Surface water is the water found on the surface of the earth, including water found in lakes and rivers. Surface water is frequently called ‘soft water’ because of its low mineral content. The problem with surface water is that it’s prone to parasites and bacteria.

Ground Water
Ground water is water that is trapped beneath the surface of the earth. Melting snow and rain that soaks into the ground bring about ground water. It’s typically called ‘hard water’ because it’s high in dissolved mineral content. Ground water carries the same parasites and bacteria as surface water.

Know Your Sources
You might want to know the source of your water and find out if it is ground or surface water.

Hard Water
Hard water isn’t as convenient or efficient as soft water is when it comes to bathing, shaving, washing your dishes, car or clothes. Hard water could do damage to your pool because when hard water is heated, re-crystallization can plug your pipes, causing heater failure and necessitating that you replace your heater. It may also cause skin irritation.

If you think you have hard water, install a water conditioner or water softener. For more information, contact your local swimming pool dealer.

Black Algae
Check for the obvious signs in the water that your pool could have a problem. The pool’s siding may have black spots – a sign that black algae has built up in those areas. Black algae could be difficult to remove, but if the problem is minor, some persistent scrubbing will do the trick. Or simply use black algaecide to fix the problem. Wash your pool with chlorine when you drain it.

Murky, Cloud Water
If your pool is already filled and the water appears murky and cloudy, there could be one of four problems:
Fine suspended water particles transform to small solid particles by precipitation. You can fix this problem if you check your ph levels. You can lower the ph using dry acid until you get an adequate reading.
There is dirt or bather pollution in the water meaning the filtration is inadequate. Tackle this problem by washing the filter and raising free chlorine levels to around 10 parts per million using unstabilized chlorine. Add some water clarifier.

There is too much stabilizer in the water, and the chlorine is taking longer to kill microorganisms. The microorganisms build up making the water appear hazy. If this is the case, lower the levels of stabilizer by replacing some of the water with large backwash. Top it up with fresh mains water.
The filter is broken or it is blocked. You might want to replace the sand. If the sand particles have become coated in calcium then the filter is not blocked, try sharpening the sand with a filter cleanser.

Green Water
If your pool water is green it could mean that algae have built up in the water. This usually means the chlorine levels have dropped so low that it is ineffective. Kill the algae with unstabilized chlorine and brush off any remaining algae on the liner/pool siding. Use algaecide and maintain sufficient chlorine levels when you refill.

Reddish Water
If the water is a reddish color, the pipes may be rusted. Call your dealer to see if you can drain your pool quickly or if you need to slowly dilute it. Clean the liner and tile with tile cleaner. Most importantly, check the pipes, valves and fixtures of your swimming pool and replace them with copper fittings. Again check pH levels and alkalinity when refilling.

Time to Close the Pool
It’s important to prepare your pool for cold weather. Simply draining and covering the pool won’t guarantee that it will be ready when you are. Here are some tips that can help ensure a successful opening:
1. Avoid closing until water is a temperature of 65°F or below.
2. Use a computerized water analysis to conduct a final testing of your pool water.
3. After vacuuming and brushing the walls of your pool, clean the skimmer basket and lint trap.
4. Use a special filter cleaner. Uncleaned filters will develop build up, making it even harder to clean in the spring.
5. With your pump running, add Winter Shock around the pool edges, keeping the pump and filter on for one hour. Next add an appropriate amount of winter algaecide.
6. Follow your builder’s recommendations for draining the pool.
7. Use special pool winterizing anti-freeze for pipes and equipment. Stay away from automotive anti-freeze, because it could damage your pool.
8. Lastly, cover your pool to protect it from the weather.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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