Pool opening season is here! The time of year when millions of backyard pools awaken from their long winter nap. Pool opening is also when most pool troubles are discovered and fixed.
When opening the pool, look closely for these spring pool problems - catch them early and you can start enjoying the pool sooner! Here's a list of 5 trouble spots you can hopefully avoid.
Pool water leaks can take many forms, but let's start with the obvious ones you can see - above ground. Pumps can leak from the shaft seal or from the pipe that comes out of the top of the pump. In both cases, it seems to drip-drop right off the very bottom of the pump where the motor connects. Pool Filters can leak on the drain plug, clamp band or air bleeder. Other leaks on the pool common in the spring include multiport valves on the filter, and for leaks in the pool, leaking around the skimmer opening and thru the pool light cord conduit are good places to start.
Pool Leaking Water:
- Check backwash line for leaking from multiport valve.
- Dye test skimmer for leaks where the skimmer meets wall.
- Pool light conduit can be sealed with silicone or pool putty.
- Dye test suspected plaster cracks or vinyl tears.
- O-ring leaks? Remove and clean with rag, then lube.
TIP: If you are looking for a substantial leak 1/4" per day or more, it's not going to be a small drip on the pump, it's something much larger.
Air leaks are when your pump is drawing in air, filling up the filter tank, and perhaps discharging air bubbles into the pool. An air leak always comes from before the pump, where the water is under vacuum suction (after the pump the water is under pressure, and any void will leak water out, not draw air in). The pump lid is the usual suspect, be sure the o-ring is clean and lubed with Teflon lube, and that it is very tight. If you have weak hand strength, you may need a pump lid tool to help tighten the lid fully. Secondly, the pipe that comes into the front of the pipe is the next thing to check. Check with shaving cream (really!) where the pipe threads meet the pump, to see if it gets sucked in. You can check other pipe junctions before the pump with shaving cream too, looking for the spot where the air is being drawn in. Many air leaks can be patched with Silicone, allowing the pump to run 4 hrs after patching, while it hardens.
Pool Has Air in Lines:
- Lube pump lid o-ring and tighten lid fully
- Tighten pump drain plugs
- Test threaded pipe coming into pump with shaving cream
- Check stem and lid o-rings on valves before pump
- Check water level, check water flow into skimmer
TIP: Another way to check for air leaks is to shut off the pump, while looking closely in areas in front of the pump for a quick squirt of water.
Algae can be prevented (next year) either with a solid safety cover, or by keeping the water level low enough (so it doesn't touch the cover), and adding a secondary winter algaecide treatment during early spring (just pour it in at several spots, under the cover). But for now, treating algae is a 5 step process;
Pool Algae Treatment:
1. Clean the Pool. To avoid stains and prevent wasting chemicals.
2. Balance the chemistry (pH, Alk, Cal, CYA), begin running filter 24/7.
3. Shock the pool with 2-4 lbs per 10,000 gals, until water is blue-gray.
4. Brush the pool, very thoroughly, filter overnight. Backwash as needed.
5. Vacuum to waste to remove shock dust and dead algae. Brush pool again.
Using a clarifier can help to restore clarity more quickly. Depending on the severity, small filters may need to replace filter media after treatment. To prevent reinfection, use a good algaecide weekly, after water clarity begins to return. Use shock to kill algae, and algaecide to prevent it.
TIP: do not add shock and algaecide at the same time. Very high chlorine levels can deplete algaecides.
Cloudy pool water? I've been there a hundred times, mostly on pools that just didn't have a big enough filter, or painted pools that were chalking, or 3/4 hp pumps chugging away on 35000 gallons, at 35 gpm. There are many pool filters out there that are fine under normal conditions, but when faced with 1000x more particulate matter, they choke, literally. If you are struggling with cloudy pool water for an extended time period, check these things:
Cloudy Pool Water:
- Clean the Pool. Skim, vac, brush.
- Test and balance the water daily.
- Run the filter as much as possible.
- Backwash only when gauge rises 7-9 psi.
- Use Clarifier, Filter Aid or Flocculent to help.
TIP: do not overdose the pool with clarifier, on some products it can have an opposite effect!
Stains on the steps, or around the main drain are very common when the pool cover first comes off. Any place where leaves or worms come to rest, they will leave a stain on plaster surfaces, and sometimes on vinyl and fiberglass pools.The first thing to do is - do not freak out! Most stains will disappear with chlorine and circulation. If you have stains on the pool this spring, here's what to do:
Pool Stain Removal:
- Clean the area very well, vacuum and brush.
- Balance the pool chemistry, pH, alk, cal, cya.
- Raise chlorine level to 10 ppm, using shock.
- Plaster pools can add shock directly to stains.
- For metal or mineral stains, use Stain Away.
TIP: Add granular pH Down to a thin sock to make a 'Stain Sock' for use with spots or small stains.
If you have other pool opening problems that we didn't address fully here, leave a comment below, or feel free to call the Pool Experts, Mon - Sat, from 8am -6pm EST. We can talk you through most any pool opening troubles!
SPP Pool Expert