Spring Time Pool Cleaning
Taking care of your swimming pool is easy with the right pool cleaning equipment to do the job. If you find yourself spending more than 1 hour per week (and hopefully much less) on your pool, take a look at your methods and tools available. With the right pool cleaning tools, you can spend more time enjoying your pool and less time cleaning it this spring!
One of the most important tools for pool cleaning is a method to remove the debris on the pool floor. Whether you use a manual vacuum, consisting of a vac head and hose, or an automatic pool vac, keeping a clean pool will reduce your sanitizer and filtering demands. Pool cleaners also improve the circulation of your pool water. Three options exist for automatic pool cleaners, and these 3 options are available as aboveground pool cleaners and inground pool cleaners.
- Suction side pool cleaners have a vacuum hose that connects into your skimmer or dedicated cleaner (suction) line. They are inexpensive to buy and easy to install, but have the disadvantage of bringing the debris into your pump and filter, and rely on the suction power of your pump.
- Pressure side pool cleaners have a pressure hose, powered by water that is pushed to it by a booster pump, or the filter pump for low pressure cleaners. They have good coverage, and trap debris in their own bag, and can be operated with a timer. More expensive and more complicated to install. Used on inground pools only.
- Robotic pool cleaners are low voltage electric robots, that operate with a long floating cord that plugs into a small transformer. Robots trap debris in their own bag and filters, and most units filter your pool water as it vacuums. More expensive, but easy to install - real easy.
Pool Cleaning Tools
Besides having a pool vacuum, you would need some good pool cleaning supplies. There are so many types of pool cleaning tools, I couldn't list them all here, but here's what a well stock pool house should have:
- Pool Brush, with stiff nylon bristles. Buy a brush with the aluminum back, for added strength. Plaster pools can use a steel bristled brush for deep cleaning or algae removal. Using a pool brush regularly pays dividends with a cleaner, more sanitary pool, plus it's a great upper body workout!
- Skimmer net. The flat, dip and flip type of net gets little love from me. I prefer the leaf rakes, the kind of pool net with a bag. Leaf Rakes are not only more durable and less tiring to use, but hold more debris and allow you to push across the floor to easily scoop up leaves - or toys, anything really.
- Pool Pole, a telescopic pool pole, specifically. The 7-21' is most useful, but if you have a smaller pool, a 5-15' would be fine. Fiberglass poles are used by most professionals, and cost 3x more than aluminum. All pool poles have a standard 2-hole type of sleeve that allows you to attach brushes, vac heads or nets, with the use of small "butterfly" clips.
- Vacuum Hose and Vacuum Head. Even if you have an automatic pool cleaner, you may need to manually vacuum a spa or the steps which your cleaner misses. After an algae bloom, manually vacuuming is indicated, or after major storms that are too much for the cleaner to handle. Having your own vac head & hose is handy.
- Test Kit. Not that one you bought in 2005, but one that is still reliable. Test strips are convenient, but the dropper type, with reagents, is more accurate. A DPD chlorine test kit can tell you when it's time to shock the pool, and also important is a test method that will test for levels of Alkalinity, Hardness, pH and Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer).
- Time Clock: Even if you have an itty bitty aboveground pump/filter combo, you probably don't need to filter 24/7. Use a pool pump timeclock to reduce your energy consumption of filter pumps, booster pumps, waterfall pumps - you get the idea. You can also control lighting and heating with automated methods, but those are more "Nice to Have".
- Chlorine Floater: Don't put your chlorine tablets in the skimmer, it can bleach vinyl liners, or damage the pipe beneath the skimmer. Plus, when the pump shuts off for a few hours, the tablets continue to leach. When the pump turns on, a blast of highly concentrated chlorine is pushed through your system (not good for certain materials). Instead, use a chlorine floater, that you can put tablets into. Be mindful that it doesn't get stuck on a step or in the skimmer, where it could stain or bleach your pool surface.
Nice to Haves:
- Leaf Gulper. Connect to your garden hose and your pool pole, and a venturi action picks up large debris into an even larger bag. If your pool is "wooded", the Leaf Gulper makes storm clean-up of a pool must faster, especially if you have good water pressure. If you have a pool cleaner booster pump, you can connect a hose to the wall outlet (with the right adapter) for a really powerful Leaf Gulping.
- Stain Eraser. The original was made for removing stains and efflorescence from plaster and tile. Stain Eraser for vinyl pools also removes mineral stains from the surface of vinyl. Both fit to the end of a standard pool pole, to reach out or bear down on the stain, or jump in with a mask and hold your breath underwater!
- Swivel Skim pool skim nets are far from being the cheapest pool nets available, but they make it so easy, it's almost fun! Floating leaf net design does most of the work for you. Larger pools should look at the Swivel Skim, it can be a real time (and back) saver!
- Filter Savers. Micro mesh filter bag that you stretch over your skimmer basket. Great for springtime, when poplars and oaks shed their detritus, and your pump basket - or your impeller, becomes clogged annoyingly fast. If you have a problem with small debris, even temporarily, pool Filter Savers can be a real life saver!
- Skim-It. If you have only one skimmer in your pool, and you notice your leaves are just going around the pool, and not entering the skimmer, take a look at the Skim-It. It's a soft plastic extension to your skimmer, an "arm" that reaches out 18", to capture and funnel leaves into your skimmer. Snaps onto to vinyl pool skimmer faceplates.
- Leaf Nets are primarily sold as a winter item, but can be a great leaf trapper during spring and fall. Leaf nets stretch over your pool to keep out the leaves. Use it during the week, remove it for the weekend? If the leaves don't fall in the pool you don't need to skim them, or later, vacuum them from the pool floor.
- Automatic Chlorinator. These are a step up from a chlorine floater. More accurate, with less wasted chlorine. Since automatic chlorinators install at your equipment, there's no chance of it getting stuck against the pool surface or tipping over and spilling after a big cannon ball. They hold over twice as much chlorine as your typical floater, too.
The importance of our pool filters can be understated at times. People tend to think more of their pump, and to be sure, the pool pump plays a valuable role in the "Circulatory System" of your pool. It is the heart of the system, and being properly sized, in relation to the filter, is important. Don't go too large with your pool pump. Pool Filters, on the other hand, can be larger than they need to be, with the benefit of longer filter cycles and cleaner water. But the type of filter is important too, there are distinct differences in pool filter types.
- DE Pool Filters are the best, hands down, in terms of particle size filtering. They can filter down to a ridiculously small 2 microns! DE pool filters also have the highest cost of the three types of pool filter, and the annual purchase of DE powder or DE powder substitutes is an added expense.
- Sand Pool Filters are the most convenient and easiest to use. The sand will last for 7-10 years in most cases, and they are a snap to backwash clean. Most sand filters won't trap the finest of silty dust however, but a well sized sand filter with good sand can filter down to 20 microns, which is enough to keep most pools clean and clear.
- Cartridge Pool Filters are in between sand and DE filter types in terms of particle size - until the cartridge begins to age after 2-4 years usually. They require manual cleaning, which is not too much trouble, but not too much fun either. If sufficiently oversized, cartridge pool filters can require cleaning only 1-2x per year.
SPP Pool Expert