As the days get longer and hotter, the backyard pool comes into its own. But there's nothing worse than peeling back the cover, ready for a dip, only to discover your sparkling pool is more of a stagnant pond. Thankfully it doesn't take much time or effort to get the pool back to resort-level splendour.
Green pool water is the first sign of winter's neglect, but luckily this grotty problem can be remedied in just a few easy steps. Start by lowering the pH of the water using dry acid such as Hy-Clor pH Decreaser, then add a ‘shock treatment' – that is, a super strong dose – of chlorine. In severe cases, you will also need algaecide. Next, make the tiny particles clump together by adding a flocculant, and once the muck has settled, vacuum the pool by hand, routing the pump's output to ‘waste'.
Once the water is crystal clear again, keep it that way by using a test kit to check the pH and free chlorine levels at least once a week. “For backyard pools, a pH of 7.2-7.6 is ideal, keeping chlorine efficiency at optimum levels,” according to the technical team at Hy-Clor. If the pH is too low, the water will be acidic and cause skin irritation and red eyes. “Low pH can be raised by adding sodium bicarbonate,” says the team.
Tip: For a handy source of pool cleaning info, download the free Hy-Clor pool testing mobile app. It suggests a range of pool tests, records the results and recommends which products to use.
Keep the pool pump in good shape by regularly backwashing the sand filter. “Not backwashing often enough adds strain on the pump motor, making the filtration system struggle to maintain water quality and clarity,” explains the Hy-Clor team. “When the pressure gauge reads above 100kpa or more, it's time to consider backwashing.”
Some pools have a cartridge filter, which also needs to be regularly cleaned by removing the cartridges and rinsing them thoroughly with a hose. If you notice a leak under the pool pump, you may have a melted impeller. “A common issue is people forget to check their skimmer and pump baskets for debris,” says Dave Daft, technical manager at Baracuda. “This starves the pump and the mechanical seal will get hot, eventually melting the impeller.”
If you have a saltwater chlorinator you will need to check your salt level, which is a cinch using test strips such as AquaChek ‘SaltChek'. If the salt level is too low, you will need to add pool salt so the chlorinator works correctly. Inspect the salt cell in your chlorinator, and if there are white calcium deposits on the electrode, you will need to clean it.
There's no need to drain a tiled pool if a tile has come loose. Clean the tile carefully and apply Selleys Marine Flex, then push it into place. “The unique formulation of Marine Flex means it will cure underwater,” says David Reece, development team leader at Selleys.
Pool fencing requirements demand that homeowners maintain the integrity – and safety – of their pool fence and gate. Ensure fasteners are in good order and tighten any loose screws. Check that all gates self-close and latch securely; lubricate hinges and latches if necessary. Damaged fence panels need to be fixed as a priority; the best way to repair damage to an aluminium fence is to replace the whole panel. “It's a good idea to also replace the panel brackets, then check that the gap under the new panel does not exceed 100mm,” says Stefan Ossenberg, product compliance manager at Protector Aluminium. Regularly check that your pool barriers are still compliant with local regulations.
Falling leaves are the bane of pool owners, but an automatic pool cleaner can help keep the pool pristine. A robotic model takes this tech to the next level; the Baracuda ‘Captura Plus' is self-contained and doesn't need to be connected to the vacuum hose. “The best thing about the ‘Captura Plus' is its versatility,” says Dave. “It's a great little cleaner that can pick up debris of many shapes and sizes in just about any pool.”
Tip: You can have your pool or spa water checked in store. Click for more information.
So there you have it, our essential guide to preparing and maintaining your pool. Head into your local Bunnings to pick up some great products to get your pool ready for summer.
Photo credit: Brigid Arnott.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.