Maintaining Swimming Pools

charlottemedd says:
I had no idea that there was such a thing as a sand filter. We are looking to put a pool in our back...... more
I had no idea that there was such a thing as a sand filter. We are looking to put a pool in our back yard. We like salt water pools more than chlorine. Do they need a sand filter, too? Thanks for sharing your comments.

Simply put, a swimming pool is just a big tub with a water supply and a few mechanical pieces of equipment -- a pump, filter, pipes, and perhaps a heater. Seems easy enough to maintain, right?

The mechanical aspects of pool equipment, however, can make the prospect of maintenance seem daunting. But there are many tasks -- starting with cleaning the pool basket and filters, and even doing routine maintenance on the pump -- that are simple. If you perform them regularly, you'll get years of trouble-free enjoyment from your pool.

Debris is the main enemy of pool parts, and your filter is the main line of defense against it. You'll probably find one of three kinds of filters in your pool system, and cleaning each kind requires slightly different steps.

A sand filter is just a big canister of special sand whose sharp edges separate debris particles from the water.

A cartridge filter employs a pleated filter element that screens out dirt on its surface. It begins as a clean slate, filtering out larger particles. When those particles clog the pores, finer particles are screened out.

A diatomaceous earth (DE) filter uses a porous powder whose particles act like sponges, trapping debris but allowing water to pass through.

Before you clean any filter, you have to know when to do it. Although different manufacturers will list requirements specific to their filters, it's usually time for a cleaning when the pressure gauge on the filter reads 10 psi above its normal operating level.

For routine maintenance, clean sand and DE filters by backflushing water through them. Replace sand every three to five years and DE every three to four months. Clean a cartridge filter by flushing it with water from a garden hose. Soak it in a cleaning solution. Keep a replacement on hand so you can rotate filters without downtime.

Cleaning a skimmer basket

You'll find the skimmer basket under a cover on the pool deck. It's designed to trap floating debris and needs to be emptied often -- daily during heavy use. A clogged skimmer basket will force the rest of the mechanical pool components to work harder.

Backflushing a sand filter

Most filter bodies will contain instructions for backwashing the filter. Look for a multiport valve on the top or body of the filter. If present, its various functions will be noted on the dial sections. Turn off the pump, rotate the dial to "backwash," and turn the pump on for about 10 minutes.

Cleaning a diatomaceous earth (DE) filter: Step 1

At the beginning of each season, disassemble your DE filter and clean the grids. Shut off the circuit breaker to the pump and bleed the system at the pressure relief valve before removing the top. Remove the top and pull out the filter grid.

Cleaning a diatomaceous earth (DE) filter: Step 2

Set the grid section with the pipe down so water can drain out. Use a garden hose nozzle with a narrow spray to wash away the DE sludge on the surface of each section. Spray until both sides are fairly clean. Reassemble the grids and recharge, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Servicing the pump motor

Shut off power to the pump and remove it from the water lines. Remove the bolts holding the motor to the housing and pull the motor free. Most manufacturers sell the motor separately, so you can replace it without purchasing a whole new pump. Be sure to get a new gasket before reassembling.

How a swimming pool pump operates

A swimming pool pump operates in a similar manner to all impeller-driven pumps. An electric motor spins an impeller disk on which are mounted curved vanes. The rotation of the vanes causes negative pressure in the water line, which draws water from the intake source and pushes it toward the pool through the discharge port.

What If... There is turbulence in the basket cover?

If the pressure in the system falls due to leaks in the pump lines, the leak will draw air, which will show up as turbulence in the pump basket cover.

One of the first places to look for leaks is the gasket on the basket cover. Turn the pump off and inspect the gasket. If you see signs of flattening, shiny spots on the gasket, or broken areas (no matter how small), replace the gasket before you operate the pump. Pumps are made to push water, not air, and air in the system will shorten the life of a pump dramatically. Do not try to compensate for a damaged gasket by overtightening the cover fasteners.

If the cover gasket is sound, follow the piping and look for a cracked PVC joint on the intake side of the system.


Comments (2)
charlottemedd wrote:

I had no idea that there was such a thing as a sand filter. We are looking to put a pool in our back yard. We like salt water pools more than chlorine. Do they need a sand filter, too? Thanks for sharing your comments.

7/21/2015 11:41:29 AM Report Abuse
ashleyreedxx wrote:

There is so much into maintaining a pool, I thought it was just getting it cleaned every now and then. I'm going to have to make sure that my pool is being taken care of. Is a water pump not enough to keep it running and clean?

4/6/2015 08:24:58 AM Report Abuse
Add your comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Register | Log In
One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!