With temperatures already in the mid 20s in some parts of the country and a warmer-than-average spring predicted for most of Australia*, many of us will want to start enjoying our pool. And right now is the perfect time to prepare your pool so it’s ready to take advantage of the warmer days, says pool and spa expert, Swimart.
“Over winter, sun and rain dilutes pool chemicals, especially chlorine and salt, which turns pool water green and helps algae get a hold and grow,” says Swimart Australasian manager Chris Fitzmaurice. “While microscopic in size, if your pool water lacks the right balance of chemicals, algae can multiply, turning your pool water green and creating patches of yellow, pink or black on its surface.”
Aside from making any pool look uninviting, algae can damage pool equipment and make swimmers ill as it often harbours bacteria like E. coli. “If you’ve let maintenance fall by the wayside over winter, it’s likely the pool water isn’t as clean and healthy as it needs to be,” he says.
If your pool is looking a little green or has algal blooms across its bottom, these five steps will quickly return it to peak condition, ready for that first swim.
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When using test strips to check pool water chemistry, compare them against the indicator as soon as they change colour.[/caption]
Step 1. Balance pool chemicals
Keeping your pool water correctly balanced can be tricky as it is affected by a number of factors outside of your control such as humidity, rainfall, pollen and insects. Alkalinity levels need to be between 80 to 120 ppm, while pH levels should range between 7.2 to 7.8. so, take a sample of your pool water from elbow-deep and use a test kit to determine if it needs adjusting.
If you can't find your kit, or don't understand what the different colours on the test strips mean, then take the sample to your local pool store for an accurate and reliable computerised test.
Step 2. Check pool equipment
Before you add any products to your pool, turn your pump on (if it isn’t already running) and run it for a few hours to help clear debris and dirt from water. While the pump is doing its job, check the filter, skimmer box and pump to ensure they are all working efficiently and clear any blockages or calcium build-ups.
If your filter cartridge needs a clean, give it a good wash with the hose. If you have a Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) filter, you may need to take it apart and clean it with a small brush and water. If you have a sand filter, set it to backwash to flush it out (don’t forget to return it to its normal setting).
Step 3: Add a sanitising agent
Your pool water may need to be sanitised to condition and ready it for other treatments. Chris recommends a chlorine-free treatment called Aqua-Health Ultra Shock,
which destroys organic waste and leaves your pool water clean and sparkling. Simply dose while the pump is running and wait a few hours before swimming.
For a more rapid sanitising effect, Aqua-Health’s Instant Pool Chlorine Pellets
can be added straight to the skimmer without the use of a floating dispenser. They’re easy to use, have a built-in stabiliser, and do not alter water hardness.
If you own a spa then check out the dual-action Poppits Spa Sanitiser
– which is also free from chlorine and bromine – as it cleans and conditions in one simple action. Using hydrogen peroxide to oxidise the bacteria in spa water, it also prevents the build-up of organic slime on the walls and seats.
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After brushing the walls of your pool to remove algae and loosen dirt, follow with a vacuum.[/caption]
Step 4. Re-balance the pool water
Treat your pool water with the products and dosages recommended by your local pool technician. Depending on your pool’s current water quality, you may need to add chlorine, an algaecide and acid to adjust the pH level (optimal level is between 7 and 7.6). Getting your pool water’s pH level right is important as it dictates how much chlorine turns into hypochlorous acid (HCIO), an active ingredient needed to kill germs, algae and bacteria.
Pool water turns green when the chlorine level is too low. If your pool water’s chlorine is below 0.5ppm, you need to ‘shock’ the water with a large dose of chlorine to get it to 10ppm. Run the filter after dosing and don’t enter the pool until the chlorine level falls below 3ppm (high chlorine levels can cause itchy skin and red, dry eyes).
Step 5. Clean your pool’s surfaces
Give the walls of your pool a decent brush to remove algae and loosen dirt, then follow with a vacuum.
Now you should be ready for that first swim – even if the water is still icy!
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Pool safety checklist
Ensure the area surrounding your pool is free of uneven pavers or obstacles that may cause accidents or injury. Also, check your pool fence, child-proof gate and latch are in good working order, position a Resuscitation Chart pool side, and move any furniture and pot plants away from the pool fence so young children can’t use them to climb into the pool area.
Most importantly, remember to supervise children when they are in the pool area – especially if they haven't swum in the pool since last summer. “Spring is a good time to reacquaint or re-enrol your kids in swimming lessons,” says Swimart Australasian manager Chris Fitzmaurice.
To find a swim school in your neighbourhood, visit the Royal Life Saving Society swim school locator
All images courtesy of Swimart