5 Tips to Get Your Pool Swim-Ready

With warmer weather and a long weekend ahead, that backyard pool is beckoning. Take these steps to make sure it's properly prepared
Free Range Stock/Chance Agrella
Regular maintenance keeps your pool clean and avoids larger, more costly problems.

Before you dive into your backyard pool or invite the neighborhood over for a pool party, make sure your pool is ready for swimmers. Here are five tips from local expert Bill Moody. Moody, who has been in the pool business for 25 years, is sales manager for Pool Builders Supply, a wholesale pool-supply business with headquarters on Central Avenue.

1. After removing the pool's cover, collect a water sample, about two cups should do it. Take the sample to a local pool-supply store or pool-service company. The business can analyze the water and tell you what chemicals and how much of them you need to add.

2. Clean the pool's filter thoroughly. If the pool has a sand filter, backwash it. If the pool has a diatomaceous earth (or DE) filter, backwash it and take off any removable parts to clean. Cartridge filters should be removed, cleaned, and reinserted. Most of the removed parts can be cleaned with a water hose. But if they have built-up residue, mix a solution of water and automatic-dishwashing detergent and let the parts soak. (It must be automatic-dishwashing detergent, so it doesn't create too many bubbles.) Then rinse the parts with the water hose, and put them back in place.

3. Make sure the pool's water level is at the right point. The water should come halfway up the skimmer opening. If the water is too low, it can cause the pump to lose prime, which may damage the pump. If the water gets too high, drain it down to ensure proper pumping and filtering.

4. Perform routine maintenance throughout the season. The biggest push to open pools happens this week and weekend, but pools require regular care. Test the pool's chlorine levels, pH, and total alkalinity on a weekly basis. If the levels aren't maintained, the imbalance can cause corroding or scaling. Empty the pool's skimmer. The amount of vacuuming required depends on the trees and plants surrounding the pool and how frequently the pool is used, but many people vacuum once a week. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Moody says.

5. Develop a relationship with your local pool-supply store or pool-service provider. Many of the stores will keep maintenance and purchase records for your pool. If staff members become familiar with your pool and your care routine, they can help you with the process and better answer your questions.

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