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Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.

Good thing you’re here to learn how to avoid pool maintenance mistakes.

Especially when it comes to pool maintenance, one or two mishaps happen quickly. Pool maintenance mistakes are not only annoying, but they also cost you money that you would definitely rather invest in cool pool accessories, and time when you could be relaxing in your pool.

Owning a pool comes with all sorts of mistakes you can make and problems you can encounter. We help you benefit from the mistakes of others. Think of it this way, “every mistake holds a lesson”.

If you know the common mistakes, you’re already a pool maintenance guru and can spend your saved time in a clear, clean and sanitary pool instead of sitting in front of your laptop at night tearing your hair out while reading endless forum discussions.

Mistake #1: Not cleaning the pool

Cleaning the pool is extremely important. The pool wants to be checked and vacuumed regularly. Dirt and leaves accumulate in the water at and need to be vacuumed away.

Filter systems, chemicals and regular cleaning is one part. But the thing is, a pool needs brushing (just like your teeth) to become truly safe.

Solution: bravely grab a pool brush and clean those hard-to-reach areas of your pool:

  • Steps and stairs
  • behind ladders
  • Water pipes
  • Corners, edges and crevices

Scrubbing will keep algae away. All sorts of organic and inorganic material builds up in joints and those hard-to-reach places. The nutrient-rich debris then attracts bacteria and algae.

So brush these places regularly to keep your pool clean and healthy. The job doesn’t take long and can be done conveniently during a swim – so it doesn’t feel like work at all.

Mistake #2: Ignoring the pH value

The pH level measures the balance of the water and is very important for healthy, stable ecosystems. The same is true for your pool. A low pH represents high acidity. While a high pH indicates a high concentration of alkali. Neither extreme is good. The solution for your pool is in the middle.

Acidic pool water with a lower pH seems good at first because foreign bodies and especially algae do not feel comfortable in acidic water. And at first glance, acidic water appears pure, clean and spotless.

With acid, however, appearances are deceiving. Pool pH water that is too low can damage the pool and everything in it. These include:

  • Pool heater
  • Automatic pool cleaners
  • Solar tarp
  • Vinyl lining of the pool
  • Metering Float

Solution: we’re not exactly preaching the overuse of chemicals. However, when it comes to pool pH, you need two agents that will rebalance the pool water in just a short time: pH-Plus and pH-Minus.

The chemicals are available in different forms (powder, granules, liquid) and are quite simple to use: with pH-Plus you increase the pH level of your pool, while pH-Minus lowers the pH level.

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The goal is to balance the water in the range between 7.0 and 7.4, and adjusting the pool water to this natural balance involves testing the water regularly. Check the pH level regularly and then adjust accordingly.

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Mistake #3: Adding chlorine directly to the water

Chlorine is an important part of proper pool maintenance. In high concentrations, chlorine can bleach anything in the pool. Black clothing will turn pink and white clothing will turn yellow.

Don’t worry. Chlorine cannot overwhelm a pool. The discoloration on clothing sounds dangerous at first, but distributed in the pool water, the chlorine (even with shock chlorination) has no significant effect.

For swimming pools with vinyl liner, on the other hand, you need to be careful. If you add the chlorine tablets directly, the granules will simply sink down, bleaching the bottom and making it brittle and fragile. If too badly damaged, the pool will leak.

Solution: before shock chlorination, dissolve the chemical in a bucket of water. You can distribute the water throughout the pool better than would be possible with solid granules. With the chlorine evenly distributed, you will protect the pool’s lining, floor and walls from fading and damage.

Simply fill a bucket with water and then put the chemical in there. Chlorine fumes occur when the water is warm. For the sake of your health, you don’t want to expose yourself directly to these toxic fumes. Therefore, put on a mask that is made for handling chemicals and put on chemical-resistant gloves before you start preparing the bucket of chlorinated water.

Mistake #4: Wearing street clothes in the pool.

You can follow any fashion trend. Wetsuits, swimsuits, topless or not, with a snorkel or a scuba mask – what you wear doesn’t really matter. Street clothes, however, should not be.

You should not go swimming in your everyday clothes. For one thing, you’ll be bringing chemicals, fibers, and all sorts of contaminants into the pool water. Secondly, the chemicals in the pool water can damage your clothes.

Normal everyday clothing is much more susceptible to chlorine and other disinfectants than swimwear. And who cares about slight discoloration on your swim trunks? It’s a different story with your favorite sweater.

Solution: Swimwear is for bathing. Street clothes are not. Period. If you follow this, you have nothing to worry about.

Mistake #5: Backwashing the pool filter too often.

Backwashing is a technique to clean your filter of sand and pebbles. Pool water flushes dirt and grime out of your filter through the drain hole.

A clean filter is necessary for thorough pool maintenance. Therefore, backwashing is an important part of your pool cleaning routine. Overdoing it, however, is one of the most common pool maintenance mistakes.

Solution: dirt in your filter (to a certain extent) doesn’t necessarily do any harm at all. On the contrary, a thin layer of dirt increases filtration efficiency by allowing the extra dirt to trap fine particles.

However, a completely dirty filter is not the goal. The solution lies in the questions of when and how often to backwash. To do this, make note of the pressure gauge on your filter tank. Immediately after a backwash, the pressure should be 0.7 to 1.0 bar (10 to 15 psi).

Pollen, dirt and grime particles that accumulate in your filter over time will improve the filtration rate but build up the pressure in the process.

If the pressure gauge reaches a pressure reading that is about 10 psi (0.7 bar) above the initial value immediately after a backwash, there is already a decent layer of dirt in your filter and it is time for the next backwash. This way, your system is running at maximum efficiency.

Mistake #6: Adding pool shocker through the skimmer

Some of the mistakes listed are relatively small and have little impact. With pool shockers in the skimmer, on the other hand, you have a massive problem that can quickly become really dangerous.

When shock chlorinating, the last thing they want to do is put the shocker’s granules in the skimmer.

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Pool shockers contain agents such as dichlorite or calcium hypochlorite. When combined with chlorine, this creates a destructive mixture. So if you have an automatic chlorine doser connected to the filtration system and add the pool shocker directly to the skimmer, the two chemicals are in a confined space.

You don’t have to be a chemistry teacher to know the result of a tiny chamber and explosive gas mixture.

Solution: you don’t want to hear the loud boom, much less witness it. So keep the pool shock as far away from the skimmer as possible. Read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly, act with caution, and always wear protective gear when operating with pool shockers.

Mistake #7: Running the filter less than eight hours per day.

A pool’s filtration system cannot keep the pool clean if it is not running. The longer the filter operates, the fewer contaminants, debris, leaves and dirt will remain in the water and be a nuisance the next time you go swimming. A filter that has too little time to work, none will do its job.

Solution: run the pool filter and pump for at least eight hours every day. The exact time depends on the type and size of the pool. For most swimming pools, eight hours is a reasonable amount of time for all the water to flow through the filter and be effectively cleaned that way.

Mistake #8: Using a pool robot with an algae infestation.

Dealing with an algae infestation in your pool is already annoying enough. Keep your pool robot working, and you’ll probably want to voluntarily switch from the pool (for swimming) to the pool (for growing algae). You can quickly turn your pool into a sanctuary and home for rare algae species and wildlife this way, anyway.

A pool robot is a sophisticated technological achievement that relieves pool owners of a lot of work. The only situation where the automatic cleaners do not help, but only worsen the problem, is algae infestation in the pool.

When the pool robot encounters algae, it only pushes it away. It doesn’t remove or kill the algae, but instead gives it a tour of the entire pool, spreading it faster than you can spell algae infestation. Some problems just can’t be solved with high-tech.

Solution: this is a common pool maintenance mistake. Even the best pool robots have their limitations. In these cases, traditional manual labor will help. Take your pool vacuum cleaner and set the filter to “waste”. Manually vacuum the algae out of the pool and then add algaecide.

While vacuuming, you will lose a considerable amount of water, and also get rid of a few euros, but in the same course, the algae.

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Mistake #9: Neglecting to check the pool water weekly.

New pool owners are faced with a long list of tasks that need to be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Testing the water is one of the most important tasks. No one wants to have problems with water quality or water chemistry.

Solution: test the pool water at least once a week. Either use test strips or a test kit to do this. Both consume each other to some extent, as you will also need to purchase reagent tablets to use the test kit.

The price of the strips and the test kit are similar. The results with the test kit tend to be a bit more accurate, while the strips are super easy to use. Submerge them in water for a few seconds and you can get a reading of your pool water.

With a sample of the water from your pool, you can also take it to local retailers for a detailed water quality analysis.

The values you should test and document are:

  • pH
  • Calcium hardness
  • Cyanuric acid (chlorine stabilizer)
  • Chlorine
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Salt

Note: Instructions for pool water pH measurement.

Each week it is not necessary to record the concentration of all these substances. The pH and chlorine levels are the most important components for a clear, safe and sanitary pool. Check these values weekly.

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Mistake #10: Shocking the pool water during the day.

The chlorine in your pool water “kills” foreign objects by binding them to itself. This leaves behind chemical compounds called chloramines. They are the reason your eyes and skin are constantly irritated when swimming in pools.

This is unavoidable in large pools, but your pool water can sine free of foreign particles and not irritate your eyes or skin in the process.

This is where shocking comes into play. Pool shockers eliminate chloramines and help you restore chlorine levels to a balanced level of about 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm).

During the day, the name of the game is to enjoy the pool. It is simply the wrong time to shock your pool water. Pool shock is based on non-stabilized chlorine. Daytime sunlight burns up to 1 ppm of the chemical every hour. The sun thus reduces the efficiency of shocking and literally burns your money.

Solution: shock the pool at night. In the beginning, you’ll need to vary with the amount. At first, we recommend adding 13 g of the pool shocker to the pool for every 10,000 liters of water. Monitor the chlorine level of the water and shock the pool weekly until the water has settled at a chlorine level of 2 to 3 ppm.

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Mistake #11: Ignoring the calcium hardness of the pool water.

Just like pH, water hardness is also important for a clear, clean and safe pool. Water hardness is simply a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water.

Too much calcium (water that is too “hard”) will make the pool water cloudy, but a little calcium is a good thing because it helps extend the life of the pool (whether vinyl siding, plaster, concrete or fiberglass) and pool accessories that are in constant contact with the water (the filter, for example).

Solution: Depending on the region, tap water may already be hard. If your tap water is low in calcium and magnesium, you can add a calcium-based water hardening agent.

The ideal value for calcium hardness is in the range of 200 to 250 particles per million (ppm). When you start the pool in the spring, you should properly adjust the calcium content of the water. As the swimming season progresses, evaporation and pumped out water can cause the concentration to drop again, so you should add a little more back into the pool water.

A convenient and money-saving solution is calcium hypochlorite pool shockers. Each time you shock, a little calcium is added to the water, helping to protect the pool and pool equipment.

Mistake #12: Filling the pool with water that is not clean.

You lose pool water when splashing, jumping in the pool, through evaporation and cleaning. Periodically, you will need to add fresh water. Adding this fill water is an important component of pool maintenance. In fact, it also serves to dilute the non-filterable substances in the water.

Care must be taken with the source of the fill water. Stick to the limits to avoid disturbing effects. Metals such as iron and copper will turn the pool a rusty red or green. Phosphates and nitrates are an ideal nutrient for algae and accelerate their growth in the water. Ammonium reacts with chlorine and unwanted byproducts are left behind.

Simply taking water from any source and dumping it into the pool is not a good idea. Unfortunately, some pool owners follow the motto, (“The chlorine will take care of it.”) and then have to deal with all kinds of problems because they saved a few euros on filling water.

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Solution: During the swimming season, you should replace about 3 to 5% of the pool water weekly. With this amount, you will compensate for water loss due to evaporation and lost water during filter backwashing.

Test the water before adding it to the pool. You can use test strips or a test kit to get a first impression of the water quality.

Rainwater that has been collected with a rain barrel, you can probably become after checking. You should stay away from water from old wells, as they are often contaminated with the metals copper and iron.

Depending on your region and water hardness, water from a modern well or even from the tap may contain too much calcium (making pool water cloudy). In this case, work with water softeners. If the concentration is too low, you should also help.

We hope you were able to take away some things from this list of typical mistakes made by experienced and new pool owners. Take some time and learn from the mistakes of others. This will save you money and give you more time in the pool, not just being busy with pool maintenance.

We hope you enjoy your swim!

Larry has been a true water rat since childhood. Pure pleasure turned into a passion. That's why he is the first point of contact for friends and acquaintances when it comes to pool-related problems. He is an integral part of the PoolHandbook editorial team.