Swimming pools are a summer essential, providing fun for the kids and relief from the heat. But they have to be regularly maintained for hygiene and safety.
Left to its own devices, a pool becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and algae, which can lead to ear, nose and skin infections.
As well as clearing fallen leaves and debris, you need to sanitise the water using a balance of chemicals.
If it is too acidic, it can cause itchy skin and red eyes. If too alkaline, it can damage the pool surfaces and equipment.
To keep maintenance work to a minimum, ensure you have a good pump and filter and check the water weekly, even through winter.
Chlorine is the standard way to keep water clean and is applied via granular, tablet or liquid form, or using a salt chlorinator. Additives like clarifier condition the water.
Check the water
Most experts agree that pool water should be checked regularly to assess its chlorine and pH levels, water hardness and total alkalinity.
DIY test kits measure these levels and explain what should be added to achieve the optimal water balance.
To determine the water quality, dip a test strip into a sample of water from your pool, wait 15 seconds then match the colours to the chart that comes with the kit.
Tile and leak repair
If the coping tiles around the edge of the pool are loose, they must be repaired before they fall off or break. Use polyurethane adhesive sealant to secure the tiles to the pool shell.
Check for leaks around the skimmer box, edges of the pool shell and water outlet from the pump and filter equipment, as these are the most common areas for problems with leakage to occur.
Over time, leaks will cause damage to any nearby structures. Use a sealant to make any leaky areas fully watertight.
Keeping it clean
A filter clears the water of all kinds of contaminants from dust, pollen and leaves, to sunscreen, loose hair and sweat released by swimmers.
Filters use sand or a fine abrasive powder called diatomaceous earth to trap debris. Some incorporate a cartridge with polyester cloth or corrugated paper to catch dirt, which is removed by cleaning the filter.
A pump keeps water circulating through the filtration system to disperse chemical treatments and prevent any build-up of debris by maintaining a constant flow.
Pool pumps are usually powered by an electric motor. They can be energy guzzlers, so use yours wisely. It should be run for around six hours each day, so install a timer to switch it on and off.
A cleaner can work in tandem with the filter, sucking up debris from the floor and walls of the pool.
Manual and automatic pulse action pool vacuums are operated by suction from the pump, but robotic cleaners are powered independently.