Swimming Pool Maintenance
By Jerome Allen
Here on Ibiza we are blessed with a wonderful climate that allows us to comfortably swim outdoors for about seven months of the year. Swimming helps to keep us cool in the summer, and it is also one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy. Those who have swimming pools in their homes have the luxury of enjoying these benefits in complete privacy. Of course your pool needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained all year, and those who have the time and inclination can do this work themselves. The alternative is to have one of Ibiza’s professional pool service companies come regularly to your home to handle all of the maintenance.Maintaining your pool has three basic elements: circulation that filters the water, regular cleaning and keeping the right chemical balance.
The ‘heart’ of a pool’s circulation system is the pump. It draws water through the filters so that dirt, debris, and other impurities can be taken out. The clean water is then pumped back into the pool. The constant circulation is also important because stagnant water is a breeding ground for the growth of algae. The more you run the filtration system, the cleaner the water will be, but if running your filter 24/7 isn’t realistic then aim to keep it on at least eight to twelve hours per day. It is also important to regularly clean the skimmer and pump basket.
The way to keep a pool clean is with regular brushing, skimming the debris off the top and vacuuming. Scrubbing the walls with a pool brush prevents algae, staining, and scaling. Skimming the surface of the water with a net or leaf rake removes floating rubbish. Vacuuming the pool picks up debris that can reduce circulation and cause damage to the filtration system. Most people do this manually, but there are also robotic pool cleaners that can do it automatically.“Keep your pool clean and balanced all year round”Keeping a proper chemical balance in the water is done by adding the right amount of chlorine, and making sure that the pH level is correct.
Chlorine breaks down harmful bacteria and sanitizes the water. The pH level is a number that expresses the acidity or alkalinity of water, and it is based on a scale where 7 is completely neutral. Lower than 7 means the water is acidic, and higher than 7 indicates that it is more alkaline. In all seasons the pH and chlorine levels in your pool need to be regularly tested. Chlorine should be between 1.0 and 1.5, and pH between 7 and 7.4 (neutral or slightly alkaline). In summer these levels can vary greatly because the high temperatures and strong sunlight evaporate the water and react with the chemicals.
Another factor to keep balanced in pool water is the amount of calcium. This is particularly important here in Ibiza where the groundwater is high in calcium.
When calcium levels are too low, you risk damage to the pool’s plaster finish or vinyl liner. But if the calcium content is too high it creates crusty deposits on the pool that are hard to remove. A level between 200 to 400 ppm is best. In addition to keeping the pool chemistry balanced, it’s also helpful to “shock” the pool once or twice a month. Shocking means you overload the water with chlorine to kill off all bacteria, contaminants, and organic matter. You may want to shock your pool more often during periods of heavy use or after an intense storm. Proper pool maintenance is also important in the five months when it is too cold to swim, but the process is different.
In winter the rain, wind and storms can cause a lot of dust, dirt and leaves to fall into the pool. This makes cleaning difficult, so you might want to consider “hibernating” your pool by covering it completely for the non-swimming months. These protective covers are specially designed to keep out solar radiation, and to stop algae from developing in the water. Regular checking of the chemical levels, plus a minimum amount of filtering, and adding a product that stops calcium from forming is all that it takes. Your pool should be in good condition when you are ready for your first dips in the warm weather.