POOL MAINTENANCE BASICS

Total Alkalinity is a measure of the total number of Alkali ions in the water. If the Alkalinity is too low, small changes in the acidity of the water will cause large swings in the pH, making it difficult to keep the pH balanced. High Alkalinity will cause the water to resist pH changes.
  • Low Alkalinity - Add Alkalinity Plus (or baking soda). Consult packaging for dosage instructions.
  • High Alkalinity - Add Muriatic Acid (also called Hydrochloric Acid). Add one gallon per treatment. WAIT FOR 12 HOURS BEFORE ALLOWING ANYONE TO SWIM. Test after 12 hours. Treat until Alkalinity reads 80-120 ppm.
pH is a measure of the acidity of the water. This is important to balance for two reasons. First, if the pH is not balanced, the chlorine and other chemicals break down and are useless. Second, if the pH is not balanced, the acidity of the water will cause swimmers’ eyes to become red and irritated. Because the pH of your eyes is only 7.2, anything higher may cause irritation.
  • Low pH- Add pH Plus (Soda Ash).  Consult packaging for dosage instructions.
  • High pH- Add ph Minus (Acid). Consult packaging for dosage instructions.
Shock is an oxidizing agent that reactivates the chlorine in the water and helps burn out other contaminants. Normally, it is necessary to shock the pool once a week no matter what type of chemical maintenance program you are using. There are many types and brands of shock available. The recommended type will have Potassium Monopersulfate as the active ingredient, regardless of the brand. Use 1 lb. per 10,000 gal. every week.

Conditioner is a water treatment that helps prevent chlorine loss due to sunlight. It is a once or a twice a year treatment. Have your water professionally tested to determine how much to add. If a lot of make-up water has been added, it may be necessary to add more conditioner during mid-season. Have the water professionally tested to determine the proper amount. When adding conditioner, dissolve it in hot water first and slowly pour it into the skimmer. It can also be poured into an old stocking, which is tied off, and then put into the skimmer to dissolve.
 
Whenever adding chemicals, make sure the filter is running and slowly pour the chemicals into the skimmer. Allow 2 hours before re-testing the water. Putting chemicals directly into the pool can bleach the liner.


ABOVE GROUND POOL WATER VOLUMES (approximate)
 
Size 48in Wall 52in Wall
12ft Round 2,975 gals 3,398 gals
15ft Round 4,646 gals 5,310 gals
18ft Round 7,646 gals 8,602 gals
21ft Round 9,106 gals 10,408 gals
24ft Round 11,895 gals 13,594 gals
27ft Round 15,054 gals 17,205 gals
30ft Round 18,585 gals 21,240 gals
33ft Round 22,488 gals 25,700 gals
12x24ft Oval 5,948 gals 6,797 gals
15x30ft Oval 9,293 gals 10,620 gals
16x32ft Oval 10,573 gals 12,084 gals
18x33ft Oval 12,267 gals 14,019 gals


SANITATION AND ALGAE PREVENTION

All water treatment programs address three needs to keep the water fresh and clean. First is sanitation, which is putting into the water a sterilizing agent that will kill bacteria and contaminants. The second is shock, which burns out these contaminants. The third is algae prevention which prevents algae from growing in the pool. Each of these can be accomplished in a number of ways. However, chlorine is by far the least expensive and it accomplishes both sanitation and algae prevention. It is still necessary to shock the pool once a week.

There are many different types of chlorine available on the market.
  1. Calcium Hypochlorite: Unstable; not pH balanced; adds calcium to the water; is better suited as an occasional shock than routine maintenance. Not Recommended.
  2. Liquid Chlorine: Unstable; not pH balanced; can bleach liner; pool cannot be used for 12 hours after treatment; better as a shock for a problem situation instead of routine use. Not Recommended.
  3. Granular Choice: Very fast acting, but unstable; breaks down quickly; not very cost effective; perfect for small pools with less than 3,000 gallons of water. Not Recommended.
  4. Di-Chlor: pH balanced and stable; very fast acting, but also breaks down very quickly; can be used for smaller pools, but it is not cost effective. Not Recommended.
  5. Tri-Chlor (trichlorotrizinetrione): pH balanced; stable; cost effective; very slow to evaporate when used with Conditioner; tablets are available in three sizes.

    Recommended:

    1” Tablets (Mini- Tabs): effective for 2-3 days; add 3 times per week.

    3” Tablets (Jumbo Tabs): effective for 3-4 days; add 2 times per week.

    As a general rule, 1 Mini-Tab per 2,500 gallons three times a week or 1 jumbo tab per 2,500 gallons two times a week will maintain a 3 ppm chlorine level in the pool.

There are many factors that affect chlorine use. Some of which are: sunlight, water temperature, pH, pollen, dust, bather load, airborne chemicals and most importantly, rain. Because all of these factors affect chlorine use, it is necessary to test the water before adding the chlorine. The chlorine dosage should then be adjusted to the test results.
  1. Sunlight - Direct sunlight causes the chlorine to break down and evaporate.

  2. Temperature - The warmer the water temperature, the more likely organics are trying to grow and the faster the chlorine is being used.

  3. pH - If the pH is not balanced, the chlorine will break down and turn into a gas, and leave the pool. Always balance the pH before adding chlorine, so that the chlorine is not wasted.

  4. Pollen - Pollen is organic so the chlorine will attack it. A lot of pollen will mean the chlorine use will go up. Shocking helps reactivate the chlorine.

  5. Bather Load - People are also organic, therefore, the more people that use the pool, the more chlorine will be needed.

  6. Dust - Dust and other inert airborne contaminants will also use up some chlorine.

  7. Rain - The biggest factor in chlorine use is rain. The rain dilutes the chlorine concentration, which lowers the chlorine level. It also brings other types of pollution and contaminants, algae. Most times when someone gets a green pool it is usually after a rain storm that has lowered the chlorine level and allowed the algae to grow.

Because of the many factors affecting chlorine use, there are a number of alternative programs to a pure chlorine program. These are all algaecide based and are more expensive but they will save time and prevent any water problems.

CHLORINE ALTERNATIVES

  1. All non-chlorine and low chlorine programs are algaecide based, using copper or other minerals to inhibit algae growth. It is still recommended that some chlorine be used as a sterilizing agent and the pool be shocked once a week to burn out contaminants. What this means is that all the same chemicals used in a chlorine program will be used. This will substantially reduce algae, as well the amount of time spent testing the water. With most alternative programs, it is only necessary to test the water once a week and that is really for the pH.
  2. Copper Algaecide is the least expensive additive. It’s presence in the water inhibits the growth of algae. Copper Algaecide has an initial treatment and then is added every 2 weeks after. It is important to follow the directions exactly. Over-dosing a pool with copper algaecide will cause blonde hair to turn green (this can be taken out of the hair by putting a little lemon juice in the shampoo). Too much copper algaecide can also stain the pool liner. Used properly, copper algaecide is a very effective and inexpensive insurance policy against algae. One quart will usually last the whole summer.
  3. Silver Algaecide is slightly more expensive than copper algaecide and it works the same way. Silver algaecide, however cannot cause stains or turn hair green.
  4. Phos-Free is a great alternative to copper algaecide. Phos-Free removes the phosphates from the water. Algae needs phosphate to grow. If the phosphates are removed, algae cannot grow. There is an initial treatment to remove all of the phosphates and then a maintenance dose every week. In addition, there is a product that is a combination of Phos-Free and Pool Perfect. Pool Perfect is a natural enzyme that eats oils and other organics and removes them from the water. This includes suntan lotions and sun blocks that can cause water cloudiness and a scum line on the water. Phos-Free and Pool Perfect provide an algaecide and a water clarifier at the same time.
  5. The Aqua Smarte Mineral System is both an algaecide and a chlorine enhancer that eliminates the need for algaecides and lowers the amount of chlorine needed. The mineral chamber contains copper silver and nickel is installed into an automatic chlorinator. The cartridge is good for one season. If the pool has an Aqua Smart Chlorine Feeder, the mineral pack installs into the feeder and a Mizermax chlorine chamber can be used at the lowest chlorinator setting. This eliminates the need to add both chlorine tablets and algaecide. Simply change out the Mizermax Chamber when it is empty, usually about every 2-3 weeks. The pool should still be shocked weekly. The Mineral System is a very low maintenance, cost effective alternative for people with little time or with chlorine sensitivity.
  6. The Perma Salt System is both the easiest and least expensive water treatment method. The unit generates ionized copper into the water to prevent algae growth. The ancillary chemicals are only needed for sterilization and shocking. Once the desired TDS level is achieved and the water is prepared, the copper level can be adjusted electrically, and the pre-measured chemicals are only added every 2 weeks. The copper chamber should be replaced approximately every season.
  7. Pristine Blue is a more expensive treatment program. It is copper based, so the directions must be followed scrupulously. There is an initial treatment; however, since it is copper based, it is only necessary to treat the pool every two weeks. It is still necessary to add two Jumbo tabs each week and shock the pool every week. Pristine Blue lowers the amount of chlorine used, is an algaecide, and a water clarifier, it requires very little time, and is perfect for chlorine sensitive people.
  8. Baquacil and Revacil have become well-known chlorine alternatives, they are both algaecide based, with copper as the active agent. Like all copper based programs, the number of treatments is usually only 2-3 times per month. Both require shocking with a sterilizing agent, hydrogen peroxide, once a week. These are the two most expensive methods of water treatment available. They are not compatible with any other type of chemical. Conversion from one of these types of chemicals requires “burning out” the chemicals from the water, replacing most of the water, and changing the filter media (i.e. replace the filter sand or put in a new cartridge).                                       


PERMA SALT

The Perma Salt System uses a natural synergy for a holistic approach to water maintenance. First, the Copper Chamber disperses natural minerals into the water such as copper and silver, that serve as natural algaecides. By simply adjusting the output, these natural mineral levels can be adjusted and maintained to their ideal levels. In addition, these natural minerals are complemented by a family of ancillary products.

Preparate: Preparate is the initial water treatment to prepare the water for the Perma Salt System. Preparate is a Sodium based Salt that is enhanced with not only Borates, but also, mineral removers, and cyanuric acid. The Sodium Salts provide a medium through which, the Perma Salt minerals may disperse. Borates, as a water prep., remove Carbon Dioxide from the water. All plant based life, such as algae, requires Carbon Dioxide to live. By removing the Carbon Dioxide, algae cannot grow while the mineral levels are coming up to the desired levels. The mineral remover, eliminates counterproductive minerals found in the normal water supply. By eliminating these interfering minerals, the natural minerals produced by the Perma Salt Chamber will be more effective. The cyanuric acid, which works in conjunction with Initiate, prevents chlorine loss due to sunlight. Preparate is the initial water preparation treatment, and is a once a year treatment.

Initiate: Initiate is a formulation of DiChlor.  DiChlor is a very strong, fast acting, but short lived bacteria-stat. Added as directed all of the side effects of chlorine use are eliminated.

Reactivate: Reactivate is an oxidizing chemical known as Potassium Monopersulfate, one of the most popular and effective shock treatments available. It is an extremely powerful oxidizing agent that strips away chloramines and other contaminants killed by the DiChlor.

Klairate: Klairate is an enzyme based water clarifier. Enzymes attack and eliminate oils and other contaminants in the water to maintain that perfect HD water clarity. The most common cause of water cloudiness and “scum” lines on pools is oils, usually for sun blocks and sun tan lotions. The enzyme based Klairate, eats these oils to keep the water’s HD Clarity.

Perma Salt System: The Perma Salt Chamber must be replaced annually. The CHAMBER light will come on to indicate that it is time to change the chamber. The preparate is a once a year treatment, however, it can also be used as a winterizing treatment as well.

 




PARTICLE FILTERS

Particle filters do exactly that. They remove or trap particles of dirt or contaminants suspended in the water. The two most common types are sand and cartridge.

Sand Filters work by trapping dirt particles between the granules of sand. As the filter gets dirtier, especially on the top, the water cannot pass thru the sand as easily. As this happens, pressure begins to build-up inside of the tank. This packs the sand tighter and tighter. As the sand packs tighter and tighter because of the increasing pressure, the filter traps finer and finer particles. So, Sand Filters filter better when they are dirty. Once the filter is so clogged that it can no longer process enough water, (when the water returning to the pool has slowed down to a trickle) it is time to clean the filter by backwashing. Backwashing reverses the water flow through the tank, cleaning the sand and blowing dirty water out the waste port. After backwashing the filter is rinsed to reseat the sand. But remember, until the sand gets dirty again, the water is flowing through very unrestricted and the very small particles are not being removed. The most common problem with keeping clear water when people have a sand filter is that they backwash too often and the filter never traps the really fine particles in the water. The sand in a sand filter should be changed at least every two years, and a sand filter should never be left outside in the winter with the sand in the tank. It will freeze, and the lateral assembly will be crushed.

Cartridge Filters or Element Filters are superior to sand filters for several reasons. First, because the weave of the filter is extremely tight, the cartridge filter can catch finer particles of dirt. Second, it filters that way all the time, not just when it is dirty. Third, Cartridge filters use all of the square feet of their media before they have to be cleaned, whereas, a sand filter uses only the top 10% of its media before it has to be cleaned. Fourth, Backwashing a sand filter “wastes” approximately 65 Gallons per Minute (200-300 gals.) in the backwashing process. This “wasted” water has already been chemically treated, the new replacement water then has to be retreated. Fifth, since a cartridge filter is relatively light when drained, it is easier to take it inside for the winter. So, Cartridge Filters filter better all the time. They require less cleaning (some cartridge filters can go an entire season without cleaning). They cost less to use because there is no wasted water or chemicals from backwashing, and they are easier to winterize. The only draw-back to a cartridge is that large gooey chemicals such as copper biguanide (Baquacil, Revacil, and Pristine Blue) will clog the filter, making the element have to be cleaned too often.
 

VACUUMING THE POOL
  1. Attach the vacuum pole to the vacuum head. Then force the swivel cuff of the vacuum hose onto the water fitting on the vacuum head.
  2. Attach the other end of the hose to the skim vacuum adapter. Put the hose and the vacuum pole (with the head attached) into the water. Hold onto the end with the skim vacuum adapter attached.
  3. Hold the skim vacuum adapter over the return jet while the system is running in the filter mode. This will fill the hose with water. When the hose is full the vacuum head will rise, bubble, then sink back down. Be patient. If there is any air in the hose, the pump will lose prime. It will then be necessary to start over.
  4. While keeping the vacuum adapter under the water, turn at a 45* angle, and slide it into the skimmer. It will suck down onto the skimmer basket. The water will now be pulled from the bottom of the pool.
  5. If the pump loses prime, there was air in the system. Re-prime the pump, and start over.
  6. While vacuuming, move the pole very slowly. If it moves too fast, the dirt will simply be stirred up. The pool will look clean when finished, but the dirt will settle back out the next day, so move slowly.
  7. Automatic pool vacuums hook-up the exact same way. It is still necessary to prime the hose first. The water flowing through the sweep is what powers it.
  8. Many pool sweeps will have flow regulators to set the right amount of the water flow through the sweep. Refer to your owner’s manual for details.
  9. If the pool sweep is the type that can climb the walls, and your pool has two returns, the bottom return should be turned off while the sweep is in operation. If this is not done the sweep can get stuck to the bottom.
  10. A trick to cut down on how often you have to have to vacuum your pool is to make sure the returns are aimed down and away from skimmer. This will get the pool water to sweep the dirt into the center of the pool for easy vacuuming. This is why some pools have returns.


HOW TO CLEAR A GREEN POOL

There are many different ways to clear a green pool. We have listed three of them, ranked by speed and cost. The fastest way, is of course the most expensive; then the moderate; and finally, the least expensive and slowest.

THE FASTEST WAY:
  1. Make sure that the filter system is operating and circulating water.
  2. Add 4 gallons of liquid chlorine per 10,000 gallons and circulate for 4 hours.
  3. Add 4 oz of “Yellow Klear” per 10,000 gallons, 8 oz for severe accumulations. Circulate water for 4 hours.
  4. Add 3 Jumbo Tabs per 10,000 gallons into the skimmer.
  5. Add “Green to Clean” as directed in the container’s instructions. Circulate the water overnight.
  6. In the morning, water should be clear and the dead algae should be on the bottom. (If the water is still cloudy, repeat steps 2, 4 and 6, and then check the next day). If you can see the bottom, vacuum the pool. If you have a cartridge filter, vacuum very slowly as normal. If you have a sand filter, vacuum on waste. You will have to put in some make-up water to replace the water you are wasting. Some of the dirt will stir, so it may be necessary to vacuum several times over several days.
  7. Begin or resume normal maintenance schedule.

MODERATE SPEED AND PRICE:
  1. Make sure the filter system is operating and circulating water.
  2. Add 4 gallons of liquid chlorine per 10,000 gallons.
  3. Add 3 Jumbo Tabs per 10,000 gallons into the skimmer and circulate 4 hours.
  4. Add “Black Algaecide” as directed on the bottle’s instructions.
  5. Add 1 ounce of “Pool First Aid” per 1000 gallons. Circulate overnight.
  6. If water is still cloudy the next day, repeat steps 2, 3 & 5 and circulate till the next day.
  7. Water should now be clear enough to vacuum. Vacuum normally, backwash or clean filter only if the return water has slowed down to a trickle. Remember, sand filters filter better when they are dirty. Backwashing too often slows down the clearing process. When you vacuum, some of the dirt will stir up, so it may be necessary to vacuum a few times over several days.
  8. Begin or resume normal maintenance schedule.

INEXPENSIVE METHOD:
  1. Make sure the filter system is operating and circulating water.
  2. Add 3 Mini Tabs per 10,000 gallons.
  3. Add 2 pounds of Blast per 10,000 gallons. Circulate water during the daylight, and turn off overnight.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you can see the bottom for vacuuming.
  5. Vacuum normally, backwash or clean filter only if the return water has slowed down to a trickle. Remember, sand filters filter better when dirty. Backwashing too often slows down the clearing process. When you vacuum, some of the dirt will stir up, so it may be necessary to vacuum a few times over several days.
  6. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 5 until the water is clear. Normally, this takes 3-5 days.
  7. Begin or resume normal maintenance schedule.                                                                  

WEEKLY ROUTINE FOR AQUA SMART MINERAL SYSTEM

Aqua Smart is a mineral system that effectively purifies the water to NSF “drinking water” standards, using up to 80% less chlorine. Each Aqua Smart cartridge lasts approximately 6 months or one swimming season. The following is the weekly maintenance schedule for an Aqua Smart Mineral System.
  1. At the beginning of each season install a new Mineral Cartridge.
  2. Each new season, add 1 bottle of Pool Magic + Phosfree*
  3. Once a week, test and adjust pH and alkalinity.
  4. Install a Mizermax Pac every 2 weeks (or as needed) in Aqua Smart Feeder.
  5. Twice a month, shock the pool with 1 pound of Blast for every 10,000 gallons.
  6. Once a week, add 1 cap-full of Pool Perfect Total per 10,000 gallons.*
*Optional program to greatly reduce chances of algae growth.

ROUTINE FOR PERMASALT SYSTEM

The Perma Salt System uses a natural synergy for a holistic approach to water maintenance. First, the Copper Chamber disperses natural minerals into the water such as copper and silver, that serve as natural algaecides. By simply adjusting the output, these natural mineral levels can be adjusted and maintained to their ideal levels. In addition, these natural minerals are complemented by a family of ancillary products.
  1. Each season, replace the Copper Chamber and add one 25 lb. Bucket of Preparate
  2. Each season, add one bottle of Pool Magic + Phosfree.*
  3. Each season, have Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) tested after adding Preparate.
  4. Weekly, test and adjust pH and Alkalinity as needed.
  5. Add Initiate + Reactivate to the pool: if your pool is 24’ or under add one of each every two weeks. If your pool is 27’ or over add two of each every two weeks.
  6. Add one bottle of Klairate every two weeks regardless of pool size.
  7. Weekly, add 1 cap-full of Pool Perfect Total per 10,000 gallons.*

*Optional program to greatly reduce chances of getting algae growth.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

When should I open my pool in the spring?

You should open your pool when the water temperature rises above 65*F. When the water temperature is below 65*F, algae will not grow. So if you open the pool before the water temperatures rises above 65*F, your water will be clear. If the water rises above 65*F, the water may turn green when the cover is removed. (See also “How to Clear a Green Pool” & “How to Open your Pool”).

What should my water level be?

Normally the water should be approximately 1” from the top of the skimmer. If the water level is lower than that a whirlpool can form which will suck air into the pump. This will cause the pump to “lose prime” which means it has stopped pumping water because there is air in the system. If the pump is losing prime, it is usually because the water level is too low.

How do I prime my pump?

On most systems, the easiest way to prime the pump is to unplug the pump, then open the lid to the leaf-pot for just a split second. The water from the skimmer will rush in and force the air put.

Retighten the lid and plug the pump back in. If you have a cartridge filter, you can simply leave the pump running, and open the bleeder valve on the top of the filter. Close the valve.

How do I clean out the leaf-pot without losing a lot of  water?

There are two ways. The first, and most common, is to unplug the pump. Then in one quick motion open the lid, remove the basket, then close the lid again. After cleaning out the basket, repeat the speed drill replacing it. It is recommended that you take off your shoes first! The second way is to purchase a plug or “gizmo” with plugs for the returns as well. The procedure is then to turn off the pump, plug the skimmer and returns, open the lid and clean the basket at your leisure. You will still lose the amount of water that is in the plumbing lines, so stand back while the system drains.

How long should I run my filter?

You should run the pump 24 hours, seven days a week. It will not hurt the pump to run it like this; it was designed to run all season.

Can I drain my pool?

No. Never drain an above ground pool. The greatest risk to an above ground pool is collapsing from ground pressure. The structural strength of the pool comes from the weight of the water. If you drain the pool, and there is a severe storm, or if there is any backfill around the pool, this could cause the pool to collapse. In addition, if you drain the pool, in most cases the liner shrinks. When you refill the pool, the liner will split, and you will have to replace the liner.

What can I do with the excess dirt after installation?

The easiest thing to do is to push the excess dirt against the pool wall once it is full. If you do not wait until the pool is full, the weight of the dirt could cause the pool to collapse. It is important to remember that back-filling may change the grade enough that a fence may be required. When the installer leaves, the pool is technically in compliance with the fence codes because it is over 4 feet above grade. If you back-fill around the pool, it will no longer be in compliance. Contact your salesperson or the service department for alternatives.

Can I run my pump on an extension cord?

No, first of all, the state electrical code requires a buried, dedicated 10 gauge 110V line be run, and the pump be connected at a GFCI type receptacle. This is usually a very inexpensive job for an electrician. Secondly, most pump manufacturers warranties are voided if the pump is run on an extension cord. In the interest of safety, code compliance and the life expectancy of the equipment, do not use an extension cord.

Are there special problems that I should be aware of?

There are four unusual circumstances that can cause problems after the pool is installed. They can be caused by crawfish, moles, termites, and nut grass. If you suspect that you may have a problem with any of these things, please contact the service department for the specific remedy for these possible problems.

Are there any safety issues that I should be concerned with?

Absolutely. First of all, we provide you with “pool rules” stickers at the time you purchase your pool for you to display. These specifically address that you cannot allow jumping or diving into the pool or rough playing for safety’s sake. The pool manufacturers also provide additional signage that should be displayed and enforced. The pool should be protected so that a small, unsupervised child cannot gain access to the pool. Things such as ladders should always be removed or secured in the up position when the pool is not being used. The pool should always be in compliance with the fencing regulations. If there is a deck built, there should be a gate with a latch at least 54” high. This is used as a barrier between the access point and the pool. Never swim alone or allow children to swim unsupervised. All these rules are common sense and there are others in the NSPI book included in your pool folder. If any of these things are missing, please let us know and we will provide them for you. Please be responsible pool owners and enforce these rules.                    

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