It would be wonderful if a pool would just look after itself so you could put your feet up and lie on a sun lounger instead. Unfortunately that is not the case – unless you can afford a pool service to do all of the work for you.
Although a swimming pool should ideally be cleaned every day, it is usually only necessary to actually vacuum a pool once a week. It may need to be vacuumed sooner if the pool has been used excessively, it is under trees or perhaps if you have had a big storm.
Vacuuming a pool is important but it is just one of the many actions required to keep a pool in a clean and healthy condition.
When should you vacuum your pool
In normal use, during the swimming season, you will not normally need to vacuum a pool more often than once a week. But there will be times when you will need to vacuum your pool more often.
If your pool gets very heavy use, particularly with children, then you are likely to need to vacuum more frequently. Most children love to keep getting out of the pool, run around and then jump back in. When they do this they take dust, grass and who knows what else back into the pool with them.
Of course, it isn’t just children that may bring debris into the pool with them. Adults can also be the culprits.
In fall, particularly if there are tress around or near the pool, it will be necessary to vacuum more frequently. Leaves, and any form of organic matter, that may sit on the bottom of a pool, will promote the growth of algae. That is something you definitely do not want. So regular vacuuming and removing leaves with a net during fall may be necessary 2-3 times a week.
After a storm
If you have a storm, particularly with strong wind, then dust and other debris will probably end up in the pool. Ideally you shouldn’t just leave that until your next weekly vacuum but do it as soon as possible. Here in the Canary Islands we have a strong wind called a Calima every few months which brings lots of dust from the Sahara desert so I need to vacuum my pool as soon as that is over.
If you should get a build up of algae then, as well as using chemicals, more frequent vacuuming, perhaps to waste, might be required. You should brush the walls and the floor thoroughly before vacuuming in this situation.
Get into a pool maintenance routine
If you just leave your pool between vacuuming, and don’t do anything else, you will just be making more work for yourself in the long run. Ideally you need to get into a routine a carry out a few tasks which will only take a few minutes but will make life easier going forward.
If you follow these pool maintenance tips and checklist then hopefully it will help to guide you through the process of keeping your pool in good order.
In an ideal world you should try and carry out these simple tasks daily. They won’t take you more than 5-10 minutes each day. We all have busy lives so that isn’t always possible. But the more frequently you can do them the easier cleaning will be down the line and the healthier your pool will be in the meantime.
- Using a pool net, skim any leaves, insects or other floating debris off of the surface of the pool. Not only will this make the pool look nicer and more inviting but it will also prevent the skimmer baskets from becoming clogged.
- Make a visual inspection of the pool to see if there is any algae or any other obvious problem. If there is then you will need to do something about it, probably by doing a full weekly clean.
- If there are any leaves or other debris on the paving around the pool then sweep or pick them up to prevent them being blown into the pool
- If the weather is not so warm then consider pulling the solar pool cover over to preserve water heat, if you have one.
As well as doing the daily tasks above you should:
- Check the skimmer baskets and empty them if necessary. If your pool is near or under trees then in the autumn it may be necessary to do this daily.
- Using a pool brush, go around the pool sides and brush downwards to remove any algae or dirt that may be clinging to the sides.
- Brush the pool steps, or the rungs of the pool ladder, to remove any dirt
- Brush any dirt from the corners of the pool or any other areas where dirt accumulates and doesn’t end up going through the pool filter.
- If you live in a warm climate and have solar pool heating and/or a solar pool cover then check the water temperature. In hot sunny weather it can climb remarkably quickly. If it is getting too warm for swimming then shut off the heating or remove the cover. I left mine covered and with the solar heating on for a week one summer, when I was ill, and when I checked the pool temperature was almost 100ºF (37ºC) which was very nearly as hot as my hot tub!
- If the pool is being used often (when you have family staying for instance) then I would check the water condition using a test strip, or whatever other method you use, and add chemicals as necessary. Otherwise I normally do his once a week after cleaning.
This is the only real work you need to do to keep your pool in good order. Once you get into the swing of things it shouldn’t take any more than an hour. It generally takes me 45 minutes from start to finish on an average week.
Ideally you should do this either before anyone goes in for a swim or at least an hour after the last swim. This is because the swimmers will have disturbed any dirt in the pool which will now be floating in suspension in the pool water. You need that dirt to settle on the bottom so you can vacuum it which will take at least an hour.
- If the pool level has dropped, due to evaporation, and you don’t have an automatic top up then use a hose to bring the water up to the correct level. If the pool is very dirty, so you will need to vacuum to waste, rather than on the filter setting, then top the pool up further as water will be lost during the vacuuming process.
- If you have lots of leaves on the bottom of your pool then use a pool rake or pool net to remove as many as possible. Try to do this as gently as possible to avoid disturbing any fine dirt from the bottom. If you do then leave it to settle again before vacuuming.
- Carry out the twice weekly tasks above relating to brushing and emptying the skimmer baskets. If you can, leave it 30 minutes or so after brushing to give the dirt a chance to settle on the bottom before you start vacuuming.
- Connect your pool vacuum to the pool pole and vacuum hose and then, after removing the air from the pool hose, connect it to the skimmer or dedicated vacuuming port if you have one.
- Vacuum the entire bottom of the pool taking your time so as not to disturb the dirt as you go.
- If vacuuming on the waste setting then keep an eye on the water level. If it reaches the bottom of the skimmer then you need to stop vacuuming and top the pool up again before continuing.
- When you have finished remove the vacuum from the pool
- Check to see if the filter needs backwashing and rinsing. When you vacuum dirt gets trapped by the filter and after a while it becomes clogged so back pressure builds up and the suction reduces. If you noticed the suction reducing while you were vacuuming, or the filter pressure gauge is now higher than normal, then you may need to do this. To find out how to do this then read my guide to backwashing.
- Visually check the pool pump strainer basket, through the see-through lid. to see if there are leaves and other debris in there. If there are then set the filter to closed and shut off any valves into the pump and then remove the basket and empty it.
- Replace the skimmer baskets if you have left them out
- Now is the time to check the pool water chemistry to establish the chlorine levels, the pH, the alkalinity etc and add whatever may be necessary.
- You are now pretty much finished. Unless you have just shocked the pool, then I suggest you go for a swim, and if you do, that is a great time to clean along the waterline to remove any marks or other stuff there. I always do this as it is so much easier than breaking my back bending over the edge to do it.
Every two weeks
It is good practice to shock your pool every other week (or perhaps even weekly if it is getting used a great deal). This will eliminate any contaminates and ensure clarity of the pool water.
As and when
- Check that you don’t have any leaks in the pipework around your pool pump and anywhere else they are exposed.
- Check your skimmer housings for the signs of any cracks and that the skimmer weir is operating correctly.
- If you have an automatic pool top up system you would be unaware if the pool has sprung a leak. So very occasionally tie up the ballcock so water won’t come in when the level drops for a week and see how much the water level goes down. It will inevitably go down a bit due to evaporation, particularly if it is warm and windy, but if it is significant then you need to investigate why is the pool losing water.
What are the benefits of vacuuming a pool?
There are more benefits when you vacuum a pool other than the obvious one of making it look clean and more appealing.
If you keep the pool clean by vacuuming then you will use less chemicals to keep the water quality correct. That is because chlorine etc is used up quicker if it has to attack the dirt in the pool. By keeping it clean there is less for the chlorine to do – so you save some money!
The more dirt you have in the pool the more likely it is that algae will start to build up and the pool may start getting that awful green appearance, particularly on the sides of the pool.
My pool pump has low suction
In order to vacuum a pool successfully you need a good level of suction, otherwise the larger particles will be left on the bottom of the pool. If your suction is low then this could be for a number of different reasons which include:
- There could be an air lock in the system. Check that there is water in the pump strainer by looking through the transparent lid. If you can see it is full then that is not the problem. However, if you can see there is no water or perhaps a small amount flowing through then there is air in the system. Try opening the valve on the top of the filter housing to release any air in there. Also try closing some of the valves into the pump (but not all) to see if you can clear it. Check that the pump strainer lid is on correctly and the O-ring is in good condition and not letting air in.
- If your pool was particularly dirty, with lots of leaves on the bottom, then check that you don’t have a blockage in the vacuum head or somewhere in the vacuum hose.
- Some air may be getting into the system. Check that you don’t have a hole in the vacuum hose somewhere or, if you have a join in the hose that it is tight.
- Make sure the water level of the pool is correct and not below the level of the bottom of the skimmer.
- Ensure that the pump strainer basket is not full and therefore clogged. This will prevent the flow of water and reduce the suction.
- If the pool pump loses suction after a few minutes of vacuuming then this is probably because there is too much back pressure in the filter. Try backwashing and then starting again to see if the suction is restored.
Why is my pool dirty after I vacuum it?
There could be a few reasons for this:
- You are vacuuming too fast so, instead of the vacuum head sucking up all of the dirt on the bottom, it is disturbing much of the dirt which goes into suspension in the water and then after an hour or so, it settles back on the bottom.
- You are not getting sufficient suction through the vacuum to pick up all the dirt. This could be because you need to shut off all the other skimmers, other than the one you are using. You may have a separate valve to do this. If not, I use a tennis ball which I push down into the skimmer hole to stop that one sucking in water. The suction holds the ball in place. By doing this all of the pump suction will be directed to the skimmer you have plugged the vacuum into.
- Your filter may be clogged and need backwashing so some of the dirt you picked up is going back into the pool.
- Check that you did not vacuum on the recirculate setting on the multiport valve of the filter. If you did the dirt would just be sent straight back into the pool. You should only vacuum on the filter or the waste setting.
- There could be a fault with your pool pump. For example the impeller, which is device the pump turns that pushes the water around the system may be stuck for some reason. If you switch off the pump and take off the strainer housing lid and the basket out you should be able to slide a finger into the pump and feel the impeller. Ensure it can turn freely and that there are no leaves etc around it.
My top three pool cleaning tools to make life easier
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner – the best time saving product on the market. I have never heard anyone say they regret buying one.
Hayward Poolvac Leaf Canister – very useful when leaves are a problem in your pool
Aquatix Pto Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Head – I use this every time I vacuum my pool. It gets where other vacuum heads can’t.
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