Guide written by:
Patrick, Handyman, Bath
Pool cleaning kits can include a range of equipment including pool robots, vacuums, brushes and nets. From the liner to the pool floor, the skimmers to the edging, your whole pool and filtration system must be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Read on to find the right pool cleaning products for you.
- Cleaning the pool walls and floor
- Water quality
- Filtration systems
- Cloudy water and liner stains
- Cleaning products
How to maintain your pool
Regular pool maintenance involves checking the quality of the water and cleaning the pool liner. The products you use must be gentle enough to avoid damaging the liner surface or indeed anyone using the pool! The waterline, where the water meets the air, must be carefully monitored as this is where the most stubborn dirt gathers.
Cloudy water and algae
In addition to regular maintenance, specific problems such as cloudy water, algae and so on, must be treated as and when they arise. These issues can be caused by a number of factors such as a lack of maintenance, heatwaves or just overuse. In addition, each season poses its own problems such as flies in the summer and leaves in the autumn.
How to maintain pool water quality
Regular water checks
Whether you disinfect your pool with chlorine or salt, it's essential that you regularly check the following water quality indicators: disinfectant level, pH value, stabiliser level and alkalinity.
Careful monitoring of these indicators by means of a pool test kit and a simple visual inspection of the pool should allow you to avoid the inconvenience of so-called 'shock treatments'.
All the above indicators should conform to the standard values noted in your test kit. Any discrepancies must be corrected with the appropriate pool treatment products. If you fail to treat the water when you notice any of these indicators being out of balance, you run the risk of all indicators becoming unbalanced.
Pool correcting treatments
Pool correcting treatments, whether they be pH correctors or chlorine shock treatments, come in the form of tablets, granules or a liquid. Each of these types of treatment is designed for a specific purpose.
- pH correctors can be liquid or solid (in the form of a powder). Both work well but liquid products are better suited to an automatic dosing system.
- Chlorine tablets, whether you go for a multi-function or standard product, are commonly used to disinfect private pools. They are designed to dissolve gradually and will continue to disinfect your pool until the tablet has dissolved entirely.
- Chlorine granules dissolve quickly and are best used as an occasional quick treatment (i.e. a shock treatment).
- Liquid chlorine varies in terms of concentration. It doesn't contain a stabiliser and has a very high pH level. If you have hard water, it tends to encourage limescale build-up. What's more, it's hard to store and dangerous to handle.
Tips for cleaning pool floors and walls
The lining of a swimming pool, usually formed by a purpose-made liner, also requires regular maintenance. Ideally, your pool liner should be cleaned on a daily basis (removing debris, insects etc.). To protect your pool lining you'll have to sweep the bottom of the pool and brush the walls on a regular basis. However, with bigger pools you'll really feel the benefit of a mechanised cleaning system. While you might still rely on a skimming net and brush to clean the pool surface and brush away the more stubborn dirt deposits, most impurities can be removed by specially designed cleaning equipment.
What types of pool cleaning systems are there?
Your choice will basically come down to a pool vacuum or a pool robot. These machines may be manually controlled or automatic and powered by electricity or hydraulics.
A pool vacuum is the most basic cleaning system. The vacuum is equipped with a suction brush that is used to guide around the walls and along the floor of your pool.
Pool robots are automatic systems that don't require any input from you! These robots can be hydraulic or electric. Hydraulic models are connected to your pool's filtration system, which provides them with the power to move around and pick up dirt; electric pool robots operate using either batteries or mains power, and are designed to brush and vacuum at the same time.
How to clean the pool waterline
In order to keep your pool liner clean, you'll need to sponge clean the water line on a regular basis using a special product designed for this purpose. The water line is the point where the water meets the air and is often where most of the dirt build-up happens (due to floating leaves, insects, etc.).
It's important to use specially formulated products as pool liners can be delicate. These products come in gel or liquid form but gel will not infiltrate into the as much as liquids. A good alternative to sponge cleaning, waterline brushes are specifically designed to tackle this part of the pool; they feature soft bristles and are easy to handle. You can even get gloves with built-in sponges which keep your skin out of contact with cleaning products. If the waterline of your pool doesn't gather a lot of dirt, a quick once-over with a magic sponge may suffice.
Swimming pool brushes
How to avoid cloudy water and liner stains
It is possible to purchase special products designed to tackle a range of water quality issues. Whatever the problem – cloudy water, stains on the liner, algae growth, etc. – it's important to start by carrying out an analysis of your water using a pool test kit.
If you want to save yourself the chore of skimming the pool surface, go ahead and use a pool cover. Using a swimming pool cover can help to both maintain your water temperature and keep out any external pollutants.
Pool water test kits
Investing in a pool maintenance kit
If you want to be fully prepared at the start of the swimming season, why not go for a pool maintenance kit? These reasonably priced kits usually supply you with a brush, a vacuum cleaner, a skimming net and a floating thermometer.
Make sure that the diameter of the vacuum cleaner hose matches the vacuum point in your pool, otherwise you'll need an adaptor. Vacuum cleaners often have a pre-filter, a bottom brush and side brushes and function using the Venturi effect. And if you want to minimise the amount of cleaning you have to do, protect your pool with a cover!
Swimming pool cleaning products: a quick guide
There is a multitude of different pool cleaning and maintenance products so here's a quick reminder of what does what!
- Chlorine is a disinfectant that works to eliminate bacteria, prevent algae growth and tackle microorganisms.
- Chlorine shock treatments are used in case of green water to treat your whole pool in one go.
- Slow-dissolve chlorine keeps your water crystal clear and prevents algae growth.
- Green water clarifiers are often chlorine-based products with additives designed to remove microorganisms and algae (you can also get chlorine-free pool clarifiers).
- Multi-function tablets disinfect and destroy algae and microorganisms while clarifying your water. These tablets are made up of chlorine and additives.
- Bromine is a powerful disinfectant that can be used in place of chlorine.
- PHMB is a robust and powerful disinfectant which also allows you to avoid the use of chlorine.
- Anti-limescale products are used for swimming pools in areas with hard water.
- Active oxygen removes organic matter and offers chlorine-free cleaning.
- pH boosters are designed to raise the pH level of your pool.
- pH reducers will lower the pH of your pool water.
- Overwintering products are usually a kind of shock treatment designed to treat algae, bacteria and limescale all in one.
- Magic sponges are designed to clean the waterline without damaging the liner material.
- Cleaning gel performs the same function as a magic sponge in gel or even spray form.
- Filter cleaner is designed to eliminate oil or limescale build-up to help your filter perform more efficiently.
- Testing kits are designed to keep you from playing the sorcerer's apprentice and mixing everything and anything to treat your water. Designed to test your pool water, these kits help you to decide what treatments to use. These kits may take the form of colour-coded tabs or an electronic tester with a digital display.
A final word of advice: be vigilant. Make the most of your time in the pool to keep an eye on the condition of your water and equipment. If in any doubt, analyse your water using a testing kit. Finally, don't forget to regularly rinse out your filter and check your skimmers!
Guide written by:
Patrick, Handyman, Bath, 12 guides
Professional maintenance and electronics training. I don’t ask to use my tools on the weekend. The car, the boat, the house with its electric appliances, the garden and its swimming pool, they all remind me that they need my attention. In the absence of an unlimited budget, I try to expand my areas of expertise. There’s nothing I like quite as much as being in the weekend workshop with my buddies. Everyone benefits from his experience which ends up being more-or-less successful, it must be said. But that’s part of the charm of DIY, helping each other and realizing a project in a pleasant way. So, if I can help you, it would be a pleasure.