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Sunday Times Healthy Times

Splashing Out

Anthony Sharpe dives into the deep end in search of tips for keeping your pool healthy.

Water is precious stuff. If you’re going to fill a pool with it, it pays to keep it in good condition, both for your health and that of the planet. So what’s the best way to do this?

Balancing act

Cheryl Heyden of Phoenix Pools says it all comes down to balance. pH balance, that is. “pH is absolutely crucial in preserving your pool shell and equipment, and then obviously to ensure healthy water,” says Heyden. She says this doesn’t necessarily need to be a complicated task. “One of my biggest concerns is the amount of nonsense advice people get about adding all sorts of weird and wonderful products to their pools, which over time cause all sorts of problems including skin problems. I urge clients to keep it simple.”

Heyden advocates the following: “Ensure that your pH is always correct – fibreglass pool pH should always be 7.2. Only add chemicals to your water as a last resort and then stick with the basics: chlorine, pool floaters or hydrochloric pool acid.”

Circulation figures

Still waters run deep. And murky, unfortunately. Simon Miller of Perfect Pools says circulation is key to keeping your pool looking good. “We understand that pool owners want to save money on electricity by running the pool motor as little as possible,” says Miller. “However, running the pump less will only have a negative effect on water balance and circulation, and will result in clients having to add more chemicals to compensate for the water not circulating enough. Pool motors need to run a minimum of eight hours per day to ensure a properly maintained swimming pool.”

When is a pool unsafe?

Water looking a little off colour? Water that is contaminated with chemicals or algae can cause skin problems. If you’re unsure of whether or not your pool is safe for swimming, Jacques Matthee of Pool Doctor says a simple check of the chemical balance should answer the question. “When the water chemistry is far off the chart it would be dangerous to swim in. This could be very high chlorine or a very low pH; in some instances it could be both,” advises Matthee.

Filter falter

There’s not much point in running your pool pump if your filter is clogged full of grime. Miller says make sure the pool filter is cleaned weekly. “The filter is extremely important in general pool maintenance,” says Miller, “and a dirty filter will increase the chemical cost to keep the pool sanitised.”

It’s important to backwash and rinse the filter every week, clean all the baskets weekly or when dirty, and replace filter media every two years.

As to which filter media is best, Jacques Matthee of Pool Doctor believes in mixing the best of both worlds. “The cartridge filter can filter finer than a conventional sand filter,” says Matthee. “That said, a conventional sand filter combined with glass is a more effective solution.”

Saving water

With fresh water becoming an increasingly valuable commodity, pool owners will want to fill their pools from natural sources as much as possible. However, steps must be taken to ensure this water is treated properly. “The first rains would cause all the algae, dust and other materials to affect the swimming pool water, and would in most cases cause the water to go green,” says Matthee. “We also find that the pH of rainwater is slightly more acidic. It would be recommended that rainwater gets trapped in tanks to be treated with chemicals before pumping or draining it to the swimming pool.”

A pool cover goes a long way when it comes to retaining that precious water. Matthee says a solid safety cover will keep a pool perfectly clean but is heavy and difficult to operate. “A thermal blanket is lighter and will keep the vast majority of dirt out as the dirt collects on top of the cover,” says Matthee.

Miller advises removing the cover for a minimum of 24 hours per week to allow the pool to “breathe”.

Image: ©iStock - 179021394

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