In the heat of summer, nothing beats a refreshing dip in the pool or just simply relaxing with friends and family in your backyard oasis. However, pool ownership comes with responsibility for the safety of the swimmers as well as maintenance of the pool and it’s equipment.
Regular maintenance will ensure that the water, equipment and the pool vessel remain in good condition for years to come. Knowing what problems may arise and what to look out for could save you time and money in the long run.
Here is a short list of potential pool problems you should be aware of:
1. Dirty Pool Filters / Faulty Media
If you have slower than normal water circulation in the pool, your water clarity is less than sparkling or debris is exiting out of your return openings, you may have an issue with your filter.
There are three main types of filters in the pool industry: cartridge, sand and diatomaceous earth (DE). It is important to know which type of pool filter you have and how you can maintain it properly. Cleanings should be done at least twice a year with cartridge and DE filters. DE and sand filters should both be backwashed regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Sand filters are recommended to change the sand every five years. Glass media is also an option for the sand replacement. If there is a tear in the cartridge or the DE grid media it will allow the debris being filtered to pass through and return to the pool and is a sign to replace the media.
2. Cloudy Pool Water
No one likes a cloudy pool. They are uninviting, unsightly and unsafe. Do not enter a pool where you cannot see the bottom. Here are a few things that can cause cloudy water:
- Filtration issues from uncleaned filters.
- High calcium hardness out of the 200 ppm to 400 ppm range.
- High alkalinity in the water out of the range between 60 ppm to 120 ppm range.
- High pH out of the 7.2 to 7.4 range.
- Inadequate sanitization, oxidation and/or disinfection in the water.
- Thick water from bathers and organic loading, which can be a result of water clarifiers coagulating and trapping particles in the filtration.
Nothing is worse than coming home and being eager to go for a swim only to discover your pool has green, yellow mustard or black algae in it.
Algae does not discriminate and can bloom in any pool that is not properly maintained. It normally starts from a lack of optimal filtration and circulation. Combined with poor sanitation, oxidation, disinfection and improper water chemistry, you will have a science project in your backyard pool. Add in high phosphates, nitrates, warm water temperatures and carbon dioxide and it becomes a real mess – it is much easier to keep algae at bay than to clean it up. You can help prevent algae from growing in your pool by:
- Keeping your filter clean
- Circulating the water circulating
- Maintaining proper water chemistry
- Maintaining adequate sanitation, oxidation or disinfection
- Brushing and vacuuming your pool surfaces
- Regularly shocking your pool
- Keeping an algaecide present in the water
- Eliminating phosphates
4. Pool Stains
Stains are also at the top of the list of unsightly issues that can happen in your pool structure. Stains can be caused by metals or organics. Knowing the color of the stain may assist with the process of its removal.
Organic stains caused by plants, leaves, berries, etc. can be removed by applying chlorine directly over them with the pool circulation off. This will allow the granular chlorine powder to fall directly onto the stain and oxidize it out. Brush immediately until the stain is removed. Use caution on certain types of colored plaster. Spot test an inconspicuous area in the pool first. These stains are normally brown, green, red or blue.
Metal stains are caused by high levels of iron, manganese or copper in the pool water. Improperly balanced water along with extremely low pH can damage the copper heat exchanger in the pool heater causing a blue-green copper stain in the pool. Metal stains can be removed (if you catch them early) with stain removal products that contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) Ascorbic acid powder is recommended. Iron can appear brown, green or red. Copper will appear blue-green or black and manganese is black, brown and purple.
5. Pool Scaling
Scale deposits and scaling are right there along with stains as a major nuisance for the aesthetics of your pool. Scaling can cause damage to the plumbing and pool equipment. In the United States, 85 percent of source water is considered to be hard water. High calcium hardness along with high pH and high alkalinity can cause scaling.
To prevent scaling, keep your water properly balanced, buy a pre-filtered adapter to remove hardness from source water when filling and use sequestering agents. Monitor your calcium hardness; 200 ppm to 400 ppm is recommended.
6. Pool Leaks
If you are noticing that the pool water level is always low or it seems you are adding more than normal amounts of water to your pool from evaporation, you may have a leak. Additionally, if you notice your water bill is higher than usual it could be that the autofill is operating at a different rate than normal which could also indicate an issue.
Aboveground equipment leaks are obvious by the wet surroundings on the equipment pad. Pumps, filters, booster pumps, and other pool equipment have lids, O-rings, seals that can crack and leak over time. Skimmer assemblies may crack from shifting the soil and causing a leak, and there are invisible types of leaks from underground pipes and structural cracks. This may require a certified pool leak detection service to identify the source.
Before you call a professional to inspect a potential pool leak, there’s a bucket evaporation test you can do yourself. Here’s how you can perform a bucket evaporation test:
- Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and place it on the second step of your pool stairs.
- Mark the inside of the buckets’ top water level with a magic marker or duct tape.
- Then, mark the top water level in the pool along the tile line.
- There are several scenarios to determine the results (generally a pool will lose a one-quarter inch of water per day from evaporation):
- Run the pool pump for 24 hours and then observe the results from both the bucket and pool water markings – if the pools’ evaporation is significantly more than the bucket, you may have a leak in the plumbing.
- Turn off the pump for 24 hours and observe the test results again. If the pools’ evaporation is significantly more than the bucket, you may have a leak in the structure.
- Additionally, you can run this test again with or without pressure side pool cleaners, waterfalls, sheer descents, or attached spas in operation in order to determine if it could be related to their plumbing or structure.