9 Pool maintenance mistakes to avoid in Austin

Regular pool maintenance is the key to having a healthy swimming season. Before grabbing the beach towels and heading to the backyard for the afternoon, make sure you’re not making any of these pool-care mistakes.

Mistake #1: Forgetting to test the chlorine

Taking a dip in a public pool is easy. The staff regulates the chlorine and other chemical levels. But when you have a backyard pool, you’re in charge of the chemistry. Testing your chlorine levels should be a daily practice. Use a simple dipstick-style test each morning and before diving in. A reading of 1 to 3 parts per million of chlorine means the pool is safe and sanitized. If the chlorine level drops below 1ppm, swimmers risk getting bacterial infections in the unsanitary water.

Mistake #2: Not using an algaecide

Pools basking under the hot Georgia sun need algaecide. This pool chemical should be added weekly, or more often if the pool is used daily. Algaecide prevents algae from forming and growing on the walls, floor and accessories in the pool. Nobody wants to swim in a green pool, so get in the habit of using algaecide. Pour the liquid in the pool’s skimmer basket at sunset. The chemicals may foam, making the pool undesirable for swimming.

Mistake #3: Draining during a backwash

Routine cleaning of the pool’s filtration system keeps the pool clean. When backwashing the pool, make sure the pool drain hose is going to a safe drainage area. If you’re flooding the backyard with the waste from your pool filter, find a new place to drain. Some city ordinances allow drainage into the public sewer system, while others do not. Call your city hall for details for your area.

Mistake #4: Not anchoring pool ladders

Avoid pinched fingers and toes by anchoring your pool ladder. Although the weight of someone on the ladder keeps the accessory in place, it still poses a hazard. Small children may try to swim behind the ladder and get stuck or pinched. Ouch! If you have an above-ground pool, fill the ladder with sand or water to keep it in place. For in-ground pools, make sure the ladder is securely bolted to the side of the pool.

Mistake #5: Foregoing a pool cover

Sure, after a relaxing afternoon, the last thing you want to do is manually cover the pool. If you don’t have an automatic cover, this chore is a two-person job. By taking an extra 10 minutes to cover the pool with a solar blanket, you retain heat in the pool, add heat to the pool and keep leaves, bird waste and animals from falling into the water. To make this pool maintenance task simpler, consider calling a professional pool company to install a pool cover holder at one end of the pool. Then you simply crank the handle and pull the cover across. Easy!

Mistake #6: Avoiding skimmer basket cleaning

Although a skimmer basket maybe be out of sight and out of mind, it needs regular cleaning. If your pool is near a tree or flowering bushes, your skimmer basket can become clogged with leaves, petals and twigs within a day. If an unexpected summer storm blows through, check your skimmer basket for extra debris. A clogged skimmer basket makes your pool’s filtration system work harder, putting stress on the water return valves.

Mistake #7: The dump and swim

It’s tempting to overlook the pool until you’re ready for a soak. If you’re in the habit of dumping in pool chemicals just minutes before donning a swimsuit, stop! If you use granulated chlorine shock, swimmers may get chemical burns from coming in contact with undissolved particles. It’s best to treat the pool first thing in the morning before the sun comes up (several hours before swimming) or just before bedtime so the pool has ample time to dissolve and disperse the treatments.

Mistake #8: Turning the pool off

Continual circulation keeps your pool clear. If you’re in the habit of turning off the filtration system at the end of the day, you’re allowing sweat, sunscreen, leaves and other pool contaminants to soak in the water and harbor bacteria. Instead, leave the pumps running 24 hours a day. They are designed to withstand continual use. The money you save from turning off the system for a few hours could eventually cost you a bacterial infection or hours of pool vacuuming to remove algae.

Mistake #9: Relying on chemical treatments

Adding chemicals to balance your pool’s water chemistry keeps the water safe. But if you aren’t manually cleaning the pool too, it’s hard to see that algae is lingering. Once a week, plan to scrub the pool walls, vacuum the floor and wipe down pool toys with a sanitizer. Not feeling up to the task? Call a professional pool company and ask about routine cleaning and maintenance tasks.