When I first bought my house with a pool I soon discovered that the only way to properly maintain my pool was to get into a regular maintenance schedule. That way I didn’t miss anything and ensured that I reduced the possibility of having problems.
There are simple pool maintenance tasks that ideally should be carried out each day and then those that should be done weekly, bi-weekly and on an ad hoc basis.
I developed the swimming pool maintenance schedule below as time went on and it works well for me. Hopefully you will find it useful. You can also download my swimming pool maintenance checklist below too.
Daily pool maintenance tasks
In an ideal world you should try and carry out these simple tasks every day. They won’t take you more than 5-10 minutes so that shouldn’t be too difficult for most people although we all have busy lives so that isn’t always possible. However, the more frequently you can do them the easier cleaning your pool will be down the line and the healthier your pool will be in the meantime. These will help you “runmypool” easier.
Skim the pool
Use a pool net to remove 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. It also helps to keep the bottom of the pool cleaner by removing leaves etc before they become waterlogged and sink to the bottom.
Check the skimmer baskets
Lift the lid off of the skimmer baskets to see if there are leaves or other debris in it. If there are more than just a few then remove the skimmer basket and empty the contents.
Check for problems
Walk around the pool and visually inspect it to see if any algae is building up on the sides or any other obvious problem. If there is then you will need to do something about it, probably by doing a full weekly clean.
Clean around the pool
If there are any leaves or other debris in the immediate area around the pool then sweep or pick them up to prevent them being blown into the pool by the wind.
Consider the pool temperature
If the weather is not so warm then you may wish to pull the solar pool cover over to preserve water heat, if you have one. Conversely, if the pool cover is on and the pool temperature is high then you may wish to roll it up.
Twice weekly pool maintenance tasks
As well as doing the daily tasks above, every few days you should:
Use the pool brush
Using a pool brush on an extendable pole, walk around the pool and brush the sides 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.
Monitor the pool temperature
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 with these fitted.
If it is getting too warm for swimming then close the valve to the solar pool heating and/or remove the solar cover. I left mine covered, and with the solar heating on for a week one hot summer, when I was ill, and when I checked the temperature of the pool water it was almost 100ºF (37ºC) which was very nearly as hot as my hot tub!
Check water chemistry
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 test liquid, and add any chemicals that may be necessary. Otherwise I normally do his once a week after cleaning.
Weekly pool cleaning tasks
Fortunately, the only real work you need to do in order to keep your pool in good order, is once per week. After you have been doing this for a while, and get into the swing of things, it shouldn’t take you any more than an hour. It generally takes me just 45 minutes from start to finish most weeks unless the pool is particularly dirty after a storm has blown debris into the pool.
If you can, then you should do this either before anyone goes in for a swim or at least an hour after the last swim. This is mainly because the swimmers will disturb any dirt in the pool which will now be floating in suspension in the pool water. That dirt should be allowed to settle on the bottom so you can vacuum it up, so allow an hour or so if possible.
Top up the pool level
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 above the normal level as water will be lost during the waste vacuuming process.
Remove leaves on the bottom
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. When you use the leaf rake, try to do this as gently as possible to avoid disturbing any fine dirt from the bottom. If you do then it is best to leave it to settle again before vacuuming.
Use the pool brush
Gently bush the sides of the pool with the pool brush to remove any dirt or algae as well as doing the same for the steps or ladder and anywhere else in your pool where dirt accumulates that is difficult to remove with the vacuum.
Empty the skimmer baskets
Empty any debris from the skimmer baskets before you start and leave the basket of out the skimmer you use to connect the vacuum hose if you do not use a skimmer plate or have a dedicated side vacuum port.
Connect up the vacuum
Connect your pool vacuum head 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. If your skimmer has two holes then use the outer most.
Vacuum the entire bottom of the pool, with the multiport valve set to filter, taking your time so as not to disturb the dirt as you go. I find it quite therapeutic actually.
If the pool is very dirty, so you are vacuuming on the waste setting, then keep an eye on the water level. If it reaches the bottom of the skimmer opening then you need to stop vacuuming and top the pool up again before continuing.
When you have finished remove the vacuum from the pool and replace any skimmer baskets still out.
Backwash if necessary
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.
Empty pump strainer basket
Visually check the pool pump strainer basket, through the see-through lid, to see if there are any leaves and other debris in there. If there are more than just a few then set the filter to closed and shut off any valves into the pump and then remove the basket and empty it.
Check your pool chemistry
Now is the time to check the pool water chemistry to establish the chlorine levels, the pH, the alkalinity etc and add whatever chemicals may be necessary to bring the readings to the correct level. Occasionally you may wish to take a sample of the pool water to your local pool store and get a full water analysis carried out.
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.
Bi-weekly pool maintenance tasks
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. Ideally you should leave the pump running after shocking the pool so it is best to shock in the evening if you can.
Do not let anyone swim after shocking until the chlorine levels have dropped to a safe level.
Check that you don’t have any leaks in the pipework around your pool pump and anywhere else they are exposed.
Check your skimmer housing/s for 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.
Pool Maintenance Course
When I first bought my house with a swimming pool I knew nothing about how to clean and maintain it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.
It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.
Pool Maintenance Checklist
My top 3 pool cleaning tools
These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.
Step and corner vacuum brush
This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush
Leaf rake net
If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.
Robotic pool cleaner
These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.