5 Steps to a Low Maintenance Swimming Pool.

What’s best? Should I clean my own pool, or should I pay a pool cleaning service to do it for me?

Cleaning your own pool has its advantages. For example, you can save money if you’re only paying for chemicals, and you are the labour. 

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Cleaning the swimming pool is a relatively easy task. Scoop the leaves, brush the walls, backwash the filter etc. etc. 

Swimming pool chemistry (although not everyone’s favourite topic) is also quite easy, when you know how. 

When training our teams up in ‘pool maintenance’, we like to split the service into sections or phases. 

  1. Inspect
  2. Clean
  3. Test
  4. Dose
  5. Record


  • Inspect

The first thing we do when arriving at the swimming pool is inspect the pool and collect data. 

Is the Kreepy working? If not what’s caused the automatic pool cleaner to stop working? Leaves stuck in the throat? Not enough suction power? Has the vacuum lid come off? Is the pool green? Why has the swimming pool turned green? Is the swimming pool pump making a noise? Has it been switched off? Why is it off, because of the timer switch? 


It’s important to make notes of these things because they can tell us a story about the pool. 


  • Clean

Clean the swimming pool. Using a leaf rake (as opposed to a leaf net) makes the pool much quicker to clean. A rake can hold more leaves than a net. 


Always brush the walls and the steps (at least once a week). This helps prevent algae growth on the pool walls and steps. 


Remove all the leaf traps, in the pump and in the weir, and make sure there is nothing obstructing or restricting the water flow. 


Backwash the filter. Tens of thousands of litres of water pass through the filter tank during the week. So it’s very important to backwash the filter periodically. Backwashing reverses the water flow through the filter, loosening the trapped dirt and sending it out to waste.


One can never get the filter sand back to its original clean state with a backwash, so there will come a time when the sand needs to be changed. (There are products available that can chemically clean the sand filter, and this usually extends the life span of the filter sand). Every swimming pool is different, so there’s no set time limit to changing sand - the industry norm, however, is 1 - 2 years.


  • Test

Even if the swimming pool water is crystal clear, the pool pH and chlorine residual should be checked once a week - and even more often if the pool is undergoing a treatment of some sort.


Testing the water helps us identify problems before they happen. A new test kit (or refill reagents) every season is worth the money. The booklet inside should clearly explain how to test, and how to resolve certain water balance and sanitizer situations.


The basic pH and chlorine tests are sufficient to perform once a week, however, there are other aspects of water balance which are equally important. (Stabiliser, Calcium Hardness, Total Alkalinity etc) It’s often best to leave these tests up to a professional pool company to do.


If you can find a pool company that is registered with the National Spa and Pool Institute of South Africa (NSPI), they should have a sophisticated water testing lab. If they’ve done the training, they should be able to explain exactly what to do to keep the rest of the water balance in check. This will make your pool maintenance even easier and cheaper.  


  • Dose

Dosing the swimming pool is an important function. Our test results tell us what the water needs, and then we add it to the swimming pool as per the instructions on the label.


Some pool experts tend to confuse their customers by changing the instruction that come on the packaging. But if we keep it basic, then it’s easy for everyone to follow. Largely, we’ve found that we get best results when we dose our pools bearing the following in mind:


  1. Clean the media (filter sand) leaf traps out first.
  2. Balance the water. (pH especially)
  3. Oxidise the water (shock the pool if necessary).
  4. Sanitize, making sure there is a continuous feed of sanitiser entering the pool for enough days between the testing and dosing.
  5. Use algaecides if necessary. Some bacteria and algae strains are resistant to very high levels of chlorine, so it could become necessary to use an algaecide from time to time.
  6. Clarifiers. Often, the suspended dirt particles in water are too fine to be trapped in the filter sand. There are swimming pool water clarifiers available which bind the fine dirt particles together so they become big enough to get trapped in the sand filter.  


  • Record

Recording test results isn’t essential if you, as a pool owner, are testing your own backyard pool. However, we encourage it. (Our swimming pool maintenance team keep log sheets of every service and we check them regularly to forecast and prevent problems before they become costly.) One can see trends between seasons and high bather loads, and keeping a record of this will form an intrinsic knowledge of a swimming pool and how it behaves under certain circumstances.