It’s no exaggeration to say that some home improvement projects do more than just upgrade your space. They transform your entire lifestyle. How do we know? Because we’ve seen it time and time again with families who’ve made the decision to add a hot tub, swimming pool or a combination of both to their homes.
New possibilities open up in every area of their lives—often totally unexpected ones. They thought they were just getting a pool. They didn’t realize that they were embarking on a new way of life. Here are just some of the ways their lives change after getting a pool or hot tub:
- They exercise more
- They enjoy a healthier lifestyle
- They host more gatherings and parties
- They get better sleep
- Their property value goes up
- Their aches and pains disappear
- They spend more quality time as a family
Once they’ve undergone this massive shift in lifestyle, they can’t imagine life without their pool or hot tub—and they don’t want to!
So, naturally, their minds turn to what becomes an all-important question: how can they maintain their pool and hot tub so they stay in excellent condition to be enjoyed for many years to come? And this is our cue to crack our knuckles and get down to the business of explaining the basics of pool and hot tub maintenance.
The Basics of Swimming Pool Maintenance
First up, let’s talk about swimming pools. We’ll tackle hot tubs, which are similar but have a few specific care requirements of their own, down below.
Swimming pool maintenance really revolves around three basic practices:
- Performing routine maintenance
- Scheduling professional service appointments
- Addressing repairs quickly and efficiently
Most of your maintenance will be performed during the pool season, those glorious months between when you open your pool and close your pool.
Opening and Closing Your Swimming Pool
As soon as the daytime temperature in your area is consistently over 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius, you can open your pool. In a nutshell, here’s what you need to do:
- Clean your pool cover. (You can speed this up with a pump and leaf blower.)
- Have your pool supplies ready to go. (Chemicals, water test kits, etc.)
- Check your pool equipment for wear and tear. (Filter, pump, heater, cover.)
- Use an automatic pool cleaner to pick up any debris inside the water.
- Test your pool’s water chemistry and adjust your chemicals.
- Shock your pool at night. (Use double the normal amount of chemicals for the first shock.)
Then, before the nighttime temperatures in your area are consistently below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degree Celsius), it’s time to close your pool for the season. Here’s what to do:
- Clean your pool and balance your water
- Clean your filter system
- Remove the return jet fittings and skimmer baskets
- Remove additional pool equipment, like the diving board and ladders
- Disconnect and drain the pump and filter
- Disconnect and drain the heater and other equipment
- “Blow out” the pool lines
- Install your pool cover and water tubes
Cleaning Your Swimming Pool
Now, for those awesome days when your pool is open, it’s important to stick to a regular cleaning schedule that covers the following four steps.
1. Test and Balance Your Water Chemicals Every Week
The chemistry of your pool is all-important when it comes to creating a healthy and safe place for you and your family to enjoy. The right mix of chemicals will keep bacteria and algae at bay and provide a sanitized environment for swimming.
The first step is to test your water with a water testing kit which lets you assess the current state of your water. You’re looking for a few key things:
pH Level: This tells you if your pool water is too acidic (low pH level) or basic (high pH level). The ideal pH level for your pool is somewhere between 7.4 and 7.6.
Alkalinity: The alkalinity of the pool works to stabilize the pH level. The ideal number for your alkalinity reading is from 100 to 150 parts per million (ppm).
Sanitizer Levels: Your sanitizer is the chemical that kills off bacteria and keeps things clean and safe. The most common sanitizers are chlorine and bromine. The ideal numbers will vary according to what kind you use in your pool water.
2. Skim, Brush and Vacuum Every Few Days
Your pool is exposed to the great outdoors and to people, so naturally, a lot of stuff can collect on the floor and walls and in the water itself. Anything that hangs around in the pool for a while (like hair, twigs, leaves, spores, etc.) will affect the chemical balance of the pool and, left untreated, can make the water cloudy and unbalanced.
You can stop this from happening by:
- Skimming the pool every other day
- Brushing down the walls of the pool at least twice a week
- Vacuuming the bottom of the pool at least twice a week
3. Check Your Pool Filter Regularly
Your pool filter is your best friend because it does the grunt work of cleaning your pool. Different pools have different filtering systems but in general, you want to clean them every month and replace them every year.
4. Shock Your Pool Once a Week
Your pool will regularly need a strong wallop of chemicals to zap away algae, bacteria, and other stuff. Good practice involves shocking the pool once a week and also after the pool has seen heavy use or a storm has added a lot of rainwater to the pool.
To ensure that your pool shock can do its job properly, only do it at night, since the sun’s UV rays can interfere with the chemicals and reduce their effectiveness.
The Basics of Hot Tub Maintenance
Some hot tub users like to keep their hot tubs open year-round, and this is something we recommend! Even in Canada, where the winters get brisk, you can still use your hot tub. In fact, there’s nothing quite like a hot soak on a quiet winter evening.
However, if you prefer to open and close your hot tub, it’s pretty simple to do.
Opening and Closing Your Hot Tub
Here are the steps to take to open your hot tub:
- Open it up and take a good look for damage
- Give it a thorough cleaning
- Reconnect the plumbing and install the drain plugs
- Check your filter cartridge and clean or replace it, if needed
- Fill the hot tub with water
- Turn the hot tub on and check that it’s functioning well
- Balance and sanitize the water
And then to close it when the season is over:
- Power off your hot tub
- Drain the water
- Clean the filters
- Blow out the jets
- Clean the outer body of the hot tub
- Put the cover on
Cleaning Your Hot Tub
Make sure your hot tub is ready to go when you want to use it by following these three simple steps:
1. Maintain Good Hot Tub Circulation
Some hot tub models have an automatic circulation schedule that circulates the water through the filters, which makes this a totally hands-off process for you. If your hot tub doesn’t have this automatic feature and you aren’t a daily user, keep the water circulating properly by turning on the hot tub for 15 minutes or so every day.
Also, keep your filters in good shape by rinsing them every week and using a special filter cleaner every month.
2. Keep a Simple Cleaning Schedule
Wipe down your spa cover with a mild bleach solution to keep mould and mildew at bay, and go over the outer surfaces of your hot tub with a vinegar solution. Keep the water fresh by completely draining and cleaning your hot tub every 3 months.
3. Balance the Water Chemistry
Just like with a swimming pool, you need to balance the water chemistry of your hot tub, checking and adjusting the pH level, alkalinity and sanitizer level, and giving it a weekly shock.
Signs that Your Pool or Hot Tub Isn’t Functioning Properly
No matter how thorough you are with swimming pool and hot tub maintenance, sometimes things will go wrong. Become familiar with the telltale signs of improper function so that you can investigate and call in professional help, if needed, to get things back on track.
Algae buildup is a definite sign that things aren’t right in your pool or hot tub. It tends to collect on the floor and walls of the pool or hot tub and can appear as a scum on the surface of the water. There are several things that can cause an algae spike: poor water circulation, an inappropriate pH level, a malfunctioning filter, etc. Whatever the cause, it’s important to address this issue right away since an algae problem will ruin the enjoyment of your pool or hot tub.
Cloudy or Discoloured Water
Water that isn’t crystal clear is another surefire sign that something is wrong with your pool or hot tub. When this happens, start by testing the water, which should allow you to identify whether it’s an issue with the water chemistry or if you need to look at a deeper issue with the equipment and machinery.
Water Levels That Keep Dipping Down Low
The water level in your pool or hot tub should more or less stay the same, so if you find that you have to continually add new water, you might have a leak somewhere. Also, this is another good time to check and re-balance your water chemistry, since if you’ve been adding fresh water from a garden hose, you’ve likely been watering down the existing chemical balance.
Strong Chlorine Odour That Burns Your Nose and Eyes
Your pool or hot tub should never give off a powerful chemical smell. If it does, it means that the sanitizer level is off. If you can feel the burn in your nose and your eyes get red and irritated from being in the water, it’s time to test your water.
Benefits of Professional Pool or Spa Service
Sometimes you want to just enjoy the fun and relaxation of your swimming pool and hot tub without having to worry for even one moment about cleaning and maintenance. If this is you, then a professional service is a great way to make sure that your pool and hot tub stay in top condition without you having to lift a finger.
With a professional pool and hot tub service, you can have peace of mind knowing that:
- You’re in expert hands
- Cleaning will be performed on a regular schedule
- Any issues or equipment malfunction will be caught in a timely manner
- Your water chemistry will be balanced by professionals
Pool and Spa Service in Duncan and Nanaimo
Transform your home and backyard into your own personal oasis with a hot tub, swimming pool, or swim spa. Visit the Sun Valley showrooms in Duncan and Nanaimo for personalized service, expert advice, and a closer look at our top-of-the-line product range. Our team of friendly and dedicated professionals will walk you through everything you need to know, from installation to maintenance and upkeep.
Want more info? Check out our fully-loaded FAQ section for detailed answers to the most common questions we receive. Or dive into our blog, which features extensive, customer-friendly information on all the ways you can upgrade your backyard with a pool, hot tub, or swim spa.