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Pool Cleaning Diary


By jstookey - Posted on 28 May 2013

We have had a few rough years of mastering the art of pool cleaning. This year I feel optimistic though. Each year we have discovered and fixed major errors in our pool maintenance process. As I understand it, if you get it right, there should be hardly any work involved. Keep an eye on the chemicals and make sure the levels are right. That is *easy*. Once you get behind on that though, it becomes *hard*. So the key is to put some effort in up front and make sure the chemicals are right.

5/28/2013 - Pool Opening

After the opening, the pool looked really good. I could see within a few feet of the bottom. I vacuumed the bottom and brushed the sides, and skimmed. Some leaves and a thin layer of sediment were all that needed to be sucked up. It's still cloudy of course but should improve quickly.

Todo:
* buy:
## Big blue jug o'chlorine
## Replacement bubbler tubes (ours broke)
## New testing paper
* Continue vacuuming until it looks clear
* Watch levels (chlorine, ph, alkalinity) & adjust *daily*
* Add liquid chlorine regularly, don't rely much on the chlorine tablets.

Notes:
* The pool openers left the skimmer and bottom drain wide open, and the vacuum worked well. I should keep it this way.
* Levels: Chlorine and free chlorine: very high (due to opening), ph perfect, alkalinity low by ~40
* CM: 1/1/30+ (day/year/record)

5/29

I bought chlorine & testing strips. The pool already looks pretty clear, I can see to the bottom. A bit of stuff needs to be vacuumed, to be sure, but it's cleaning up quick.

Todo:
* buy alkalinity increaser
* increase alkalinity
* buy replacement bubbler tubes
* keep vacuuming

Notes:
* Levels: Chlorine and free chlorine: very high (due to opening), ph perfect, alkalinity low by ~40
* CM: 3/4/30+

5/31

* CM: 2/6/30+

6/1

* Todo: buy alkalinity increaser, new skimmer pole
* Increase alkalinity
* Buy replacement bubbler tube
* Start adding chlorine soon

* Levels: Free Chlorine high.

6/2 - Freihoffer's Weekend

* Same levels, chlorine still high.
* Pool is super clean after getting cleaned & used. Just had to vacuum the deepest end and do a quick brush. Season was super duper cold. Then we had a few days of hot weather after the opening. In the hot weather, the cold pool is great and refreshing. People stayed in the pool for hours.

* Notes: If cleaning the pool is this easy, I could see doing it every morning.

6/3

* We had more torrential downpours again last night. pH level was a little low, so I added some increaser to the chlorinator. Brushed all the sides then vacuumed the bottom, there was a fair amount of dirt down there. Chlorine level is still slightly above good.

6/4

* While brushing the pool, I put a big 5 inch gash in the pool liner near the bottom of the shallow end. I put a patch on, a nearly impossible process, what a pain. It is holding water now, at least for the most part.

6/5

* Done: Bought new pole, brush, alkalinity boost, quick half-brush
* The chlorine level is ideal, but I need to add more to keep on top of it. Alkalinity is still low, so keep adding more.
* Todo: Keep boosting chlorine/alkalinity as needed. Do a decent vacuum soon.
* CM: 4/10/30+

6/6

* CM: 2/12/30+ (plus 2 m)

6/9

* Pool was vacuumed & brushed

6/10

* Brushed down the pool a bit. Chlorine was at the low-end of ok. I filled up the chlorinator with liquid chlorine and set the dial to high. Pool looks really good right now.

* Todo:
** Keep up the good work
* Maybe put another patch over the patch.

* The routine:
** Pretty much every day: give the pool a quick brush, check chemical levels, add some chem if needed. Take a quick swim! That's why it's there!
** Perhaps twice a week or as-needed: Vacuum the pool to pick up any debris at the bottom.
** Weekly or as-needed: give the pool a thorough brush including all sides.

6/11

* Pool looks great. Levels are good, chlorine a bit on the high side. Gave it a good brushing. We've had a lot of rain (on top of a lot of rain)

6/12

* Looks good. Added a bit of ph booster. Levels good, could maybe use more chlorine in the next day or so. Brushed.
* Todo: Add chlorine soon, vacuum & throrough brush this weekend or before.
* CM: 2/14/30+ (plus 2 m)

6/14

* It has been raining a ton. The chlorine was super low, the pool was cloudy. The water level was very high. I added a load of liquid chlorine to the chlorinator on high, and shortly after a water test showed chlorine. I drained some water off the pool (oops I should have done that before adding the chlorine). I brushed it down. I gave it a thorough brush.

Todo: Keep an eye on the chemicals, vacuum. Tonight, test the chemicals and add shock if chlorine is still low.

Later that night: Chlorine was at the low end of ok. I sprinkled a packet of pool shock (chlorine) around the pool, then brushed it a bit. Now the chlorine level is high.

* CM: 1/15/30+ (plus 2 m)

6/15

* Vacuumed, skimmed, brushed, swam, added more chlorine.

6/16

* Pool has been looking great. Chlorine level is on the high end of "ok". Still could use more perhaps this evening. Gave it a good skim, vacuum, brush, and swim.

* CM: 1/16/30+ (plus 2 m)

Todo:
* The skimmer and center drain are both basically not doing anything. I have been keeping both fully open, so it's likely that these need to be partially closed although I don't understand why fully open isn't "full blast". This could help a ton with brushing the dirt at the bottom into the center instead of vacuuming. I could possibly boost the center drain while brushing and boost the skimmer other times although ideally both would be working all the time.
* It will need chlorine at some point soon.
* Find out: how to add liquid chlorine? Is it ok to add that and other chemicals (ph/alkalinity, etc) through the chlorinator or is it better to spread around in the pool itself?
* Look into a pool robot, one that operates on suction and always moves around one pool. That could make things really easy.
* Check this out: http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/
* Are the test strips accurate? Should I use a higher quality test?
* Possibly work on getting CYA/Cyanuric Acid (chlorine stabilizer) up to 30-50, then increasing chlorine level to hopefully reduce the amount of chlorine that needs to be added. Cheapest as solid, best added in a sock in the skimmer basket. It can take a week to show up in tests. http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/pool_water_chemistry
* A real test kit is deemed necessary by pool-school: http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/pool_test_kit_comparison . Q: What's wrong with the test strips I've been using? How often do I need to replace the test kit, where to store, etc?
* http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/basic_pool_care_schedule?sid=...
** Hmm - no daily brushing? Can I focus a little more on chemicals and a little less on daily brushing?
* Very interesting note about using pucks - "They are incredibly convenient and incredibly insidious. The CYA that they put into your pool water doesn't get used up, and instead accumulates. Eventually the CYA level will build up to a point that renders your chlorine ineffective. Typically, everything is fine, until one day you start to develop algae and don't understand why." Sounds familiar.
* Right now the CYA is basically non-existent. Tablets add CYA slowly. Eventually they add too much. I'm using the fancier test tabs which test for CYA. Here's a plan: use the tablets for a little while and in a week or so hopefully the CYA level will be higher than it is now (0). Note that CYA can take a week before it actually registers in a test.

6/17

* Pool looks absolutely perfect at the moment. Chlorine is at ideal, just a little dust at the bottom. I brushed it into the drain. I tried turning down the skimmer a little to make more suction in the drain, but I couldn't turn down the skimmer much without sucking air. It still helped to turn the skimmer down a little I think. I added pucks to the chlorinator to try and increase the CYA (stabilizer) level.

6/18

The chemical levels are perfect and seem stable. There was hardly any debris in the skimmer, and only a tiny little pile of dirt at the bottom at the deep end. I lowered the skimmer, brushed just the visible stuff into the drain, and increased the skimmer again.

Todo:
* Check this out: http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/
* Are the test strips accurate? Should I use a higher quality test?
* Maybe put another patch over the patch.

* CM: 2/18/30+ (plus 2 m)

6/19

* Today there was nothing to do. It took about 2 minutes to test the pool, everything looked perfect, and brush a tiny pile of dust into the drain.

6/22

* Nothing at all to report! Did a 2 minute brush each morning for the last couple of days, and tested the chemicals, and everything looks great. The chlorine level has been managed by the chlorinator. I have been turning the skimmer all the way closed temporarily while I'm brushing so the center drain pulls more dirt in, then I open it again. It works great, highly recommended. The pump sucks a little air, but keeps the drain going strong. There hasn't really been any debris in the skimmer basket. Maybe after all the rain all the loose stuff (pollen, leaves, etc) have all been knocked to the ground so now it's taking a rest for a while and giving the pool a break.

6/25

* Pool continues to be good. The pucks I put in a week or so ago got used up. I added some more, but lowered the rate at which they'll get circulated. Today the chlorine was a little lower so I added a bit using liquid directly added to the pool. We had some rain yesterday, the pool was a little bit dirtier on the bottom than it has been but not much, and it is a little cloudy. Looks great though. Had some good swim time this weekend, it has been warm, and now the pool is finally comfortable.

6/30

* Went away for the weekend. Brushed pool throroughly before leaving and cranked up the chlorinator. Came back. A little dirt at the bottom was easy to sweep into the drain and the chlorine is a bit on the high side. Looks great though. Turned the chlorinator back down.

7/4

* Kept at it mostly daily. Today the chlorine was a little low, so I tossed in a bag of shock, added pucks, and brushed. Looks good.

CM: 2/18/30+ (plus 3 m/m)

7/8

* We had some very hot weather over the last few days. The pool temperature is nice and comfy, but not too warm by any means. It rained a lot last night again. The chlorine was a little low so I added liquid chlorine this morning. There was more dirt at the bottom of the pool than usual, so I gave it a pretty good brushing (not including the vertical walls).

Todo:
* Thorough brushing including vertical walls
* Check the other chem levels and make everything perfect again
* Apply another patch on the hole

The process I've been using:
* Check chemicals.
* Hockey pucks in the chlorinator: For a while I went without any hockey pucks and used liquid chlorine and shock packets to keep the water chlorinated. Then I noticed that the stabilizer was low, so I used hockey pucks in the chlorinator for a while. Lately I have been keeping the chlorinator filled with hockey pucks, but running at a deficit so I still need to add the occasional liquid chlorine or shock packet. When I add liquid chlorine, I pour some into a container (bucket or smaller) then usually mix it with some pool water to dilute it, and pour it all around the pool, tossing some out into to the middle. When I add shock, I do similar, trying to distribute it as much as possible, with a little less in the shallow end because there is less water there. I always brush after adding liquid or packet chlorine, because I want to stir it up a little. It's not good to let the crystals sit around on the bottom of the pool.
* Keep the skimmer and bottom drain open all the way except when cleaning
* When cleaning: first empty skimmer, then close skimmer so all the water is getting sucked through the drain. Brush all debris into the bottom drain to clean.
* The pool timer has the pool circulating 12 hours a day. I would almost prefer to have it running more, but haven't adjusted it. Every once in a while I reset the timer to set it to run for the next 24 hours (after which it returns to its regular cycle).
* As long as the water level is a bit on the low side, the automatic skimmer works great and I don't have to manually skim at all.
* There has really been no reason to vacuum the pool now that I have been keeping up with the chemicals and doing at least a quick brush almost every day.
* On vacation for a week? Use hockey pucks in the chlorinator and try to have it circulate enough to maintain the chlorine level at a normal level. Additionally, it might be worth distributing a packet or two of shock (followed by a brushing) just to overchlorinate the pool a bit before leaving.

7/10

* Everything looks good. Added a bit of chlorine. We'll be away most of next week, but someone is coming by to take care of the pool a little bit so we should be in good shape. We've run low on/out of liquid chlorine, hockey pucks, and testing strips, so need to restock. Need to make sure the timer is on a reasonable schedule so the poolhouse is running when cleaners come.

7/20

* The pool guy came last week while we were still here, but it was good and clean so there wasn't much to do. We went away for the week, and he came back towards the end of our trip. Unfortunately the patch job I did probably wasn't up-to-snuff, and leaked out enough water so that he couldn't vacuum. He removed our bad patch and put on a (hopefully) good patch, so we should be in much better shape there. The chemicals look perfect. There is a bit of dirt and leaves in the bottom, and a fair amount of leaves on the surface because the automatic skimmer hasn't been running. I skimmed and brushed a bit, and will raise the water level so the skimmer can run. Then I should probably vacuum/etc. and it should be perfect again.

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