Over the years I’ve heard a lot of people grumble that they don’t want a pool. And in some cases, I’ve heard pool owners complain that they want to fill their pool with concrete.
This always comes as a surprise to me.
Who wouldn’t want another private way to cool off, entertain, or get some exercise in?
At the end of the day, it almost always comes down to doing the work.
But this also comes as a surprise to me. Because personally, I think keeping up with the pool water isn’t a chore at all.
It’s pretty easy once you get down the basics.
Outside of major issues to your pool’s filtration system or plumbing, keeping your water clean and on a budget isn’t all that hard.
In the below post, I’ll share five of the ways that I keep up with my pool and keep the water clean.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, unless you have a saltwater or mineral pool.
Chlorine is the number one way to keep your pool water clean and bacteria-free. You can buy chlorine in various forms, but I prefer the pucks because they’re easy to use and last a long time.
I typically drop at least three pucks in my skimmer and let the chlorine do its magic. On really hot occasions in the summer, I may add another tablet. There are also a number of floating chlorine dispensers that you can purchase online. Even fun ones like this yellow duck. Just make sure the kids know that it’s not a toy!
For the most part, adding a few pucks keeps the chlorine levels in my pool relatively balanced. But when it gets really hot, or after we have a party, I’ll look to add a bag of shock.
Shock is essentially highly concentrated granular chlorine that you add to the pool water to help raise the chlorine levels quickly. This is important because when chlorine levels get low, it becomes significantly less effective at killing bacteria. Low chlorine is also one of the biggest reasons why pools turn green.
Bonus Tip: When purchasing chlorine, look for stabilized chlorine. Typically, this is a little more expensive, but it’s worth it. Stabilized chlorine contains a chemical that helps protect it from being broken down by the sun. So, if you live in a sunny climate, this is a must. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy pool stabilizer (also known as cyanuric acid) to keep the chlorine from burning off too quickly.
Use a pool timer
As much as we want to live by the pool 24/7, it’s just not feasible.
People get busy. Life happens.
Personally, I work from home. My desk is less than 100 feet from my pool. With that being said, I’m still not in the pool every day.
I’d love to be, but I have to get work done. And when I do have free time, I don’t want to spend it trying to remember if I turned the pool on or off. Plus, I need to take a vacation every now and then or else I’d go crazy.
This is where a pool timer comes in handy.
A pool timer is an automatic device that you can set to turn your pool’s pump and filter on and off.
This is a great way to save money on your electric bill and ensure that your pool is being filtered even when you’re not using it.
I have a programmable timer that I’ve set to run my pool for at least six hours a day. I typically have it turn on around 10 am and turn off around 4 pm. This gives the pool plenty of time to circulate and filter the water while still giving me time to enjoy it in the evenings.
Remember: Stagnant water in a pool is a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty bacteria.
It also makes it easier for the sun to eat away at the chlorine.
Bonus Tip: You can find pool timers online or at your local home improvement store. I’ve had great luck with the Intermatic T104 Electromechanical Timer.
Invest in a quality pool vacuum
I spent quite a few summers of my young adult years working at a pool store.
Besides sitting at the computer water test station waiting for the next customer, which would sometimes take hours, I’d have to find ways to kill time. Going up to the attic to grab boxes to restock chemicals was a nightmare. So that was a hard pass for me.
A better, healthier, more enjoyable way to kill time (without getting hounded by the manager) was to go outside and clean the display pools.
I quickly learned that vacuuming a pool manually can be very effective. It can also be therapeutic in a way.
But it’s also very time consuming. Especially for larger pools.
Remember: I was manually vacuuming pools at work to kill time. Do you really want to spend a good chunk of your swimming season playing pool boy without the perks of getting paid?
When I first bought my home, which has an inground swimming pool, I thought I’d put my skills from cleaning pools in my early twenties to work.
Let me tell you — hooking up the hose to head, submerging it to prime it, plugging it into the skimmer, and standing out in the sun got old really quick.
After a few months of scraping my knees and sweating profusely, I decided enough was enough. Manually vacuuming a pool is a never-ending battle.
I started doing the math in my head and counted up all of the hours that I was investing into vacuuming my pool on a monthly basis. Conservatively, I probably spent around 20 hours that first pool season cleaning my pool by hand.
When you start living by the idea that “time is money”, it becomes a lot easier to justify bigger expenses. Especially when they help you get time back so you can reinvest that into other things that MAKE money.
I applied this logic when I first looked at buying a robotic pool cleaner. At first, I was a little on the fence, just because of the price tag. Coughing up another $700-$1,200 for a high-end cleaner seemed like a stretch. Was I just being lazy?
Maybe. But here’s the thing — most of those pool cleaners come with a warranty so they’re guaranteed to last at least a few years. So, let’s just say you freelance and charge $50 per hour for your services. If you save 40 hours in 2 years, that expensive pool cleaner just technically allowed you to go out and bill $2,000. So, even a higher-priced pool vacuums at $1,200 actually net you $800.
Bottom line: Don’t be stingy. Investing in a high-quality pool cleaner automates the cleaning process, allowing you to focus on other things. This will ultimately make it easier to keep your pool clean, water balanced, and save you money down the road.
Whenever I talk to pool owners, the first question I like to ask them is “Do you swim?”
This might come as a shock, but a lot of reply like, “We don’t use the pool that much”, or “The pool is just for entertaining…”
While there’s nothing wrong with that, I can’t help but feel like they’re missing out on one of the best parts about having a pool — actually using it to go swimming!
Beyond getting exercise, cooling off, or simply floating around to chill out, going for a dip in the pool is one of the best ways to stay on top of your pool. And it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
By regularly using your pool, you’re more likely to catch any potential problems early on. Maybe the pH is off. Maybe there’s a leak somewhere. Maybe the water is a little cloudy.
If you only use your pool for special occasions, those problems could go undetected for weeks or even months at a time. By then, they could be much worse and much more expensive to fix.
Swimming is one of my secret weapons when it comes to keeping a pool clean. And it doesn’t cost another dime. Get some exercise and keep tabs on how my pool is functioning? Count me in.
Open and close properly
My last trick to a relatively low pool maintenance and sparkling blue water starts and ends with the season.
Unless you live in Florida or other more tropical climates, there’s a pretty good chance that you have to winterize your pool. This means lowering your water levels below the skimmer, cleaning everything out, and adding some antifreeze to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. It also means putting on a pool cover to keep leaves and other debris from getting in.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you’re using a good quality pool cover. A lot of the time, people skimp on this and try to save a few bucks by getting something cheap. But trust me — it’s not worth it in the long run. A high-quality pool cover will last for years and will make closing and opening your pool a breeze. For me, I’ve had a lot of success using the Loop-Loc Mesh Safety Cover. I’ve even seen some drunk adults from time-to-time stumble across it at night, though I wouldn’t advise this.
In the spring, it’s time to “open” your pool again. This means removing your pool cover and putting it safely in storage. Once that’s complete, you need to add water back to your pool and get the filtration system back up and running.
From there, you’ll want to add liquid shock and start to remove all of the junk that trickled into the pool while it was closed. Run your filter for a full 24 hours and it will start to clear up. After that, you should test your water using test strips, or by taking it in to your local pool supplies store. I can’t emphasize how important it is to get your pool start up chemicals right. Balancing your water from the get-go will make your entire season a lot easier.