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How Do You Clean A Swimming Pool

Updated on May 8, 2013

Learn Some Simple Steps To Clean Your Pool!

Itâs that time of year again! Backyard Bar-B-Queâs, fun in the sun, Birthday Parties and who can forget Swimming if you own a pool. Oh yea, the pool, I hope you didnât forget! Has your pool cleaner called you yet to set up an appointment for this season yet?

Donât run off just yet scrambling to find a local pool cleaner, why donât you follow me through some simple steps to cleaning your own pool. Sure it will take a little time as does mowing your lawn and other yard chores but it is not that hard or strenuous. You will also save a bundle doing it yourself!

You'll need a solid weekend to get things started, but you won't be tending to the pool the whole time. I'll give you some breaks and down time!

Keep reading to see how easy it can be even if this is your first time cleaning your own pool.

Photo used under Creative Commons from michael_swan.

Where Do You Begin

Let's Assess The Situation

Does your pool look like a swamp or does it have a cover?

When you closed your pool last yer, did you leave it half full or did you drain it and it is completely empty?

Do you have trees near your pool? Leaves could have blown in from last year and are either swimming or lying on the bottom looking like a brownish-black abyss staring at you as you look into the pool.

Do you feel the dread already and want to give up? Well, I did not mention that it wasn't going to be a pretty job to do, just easy.

I know, I hear and feel your pain, I've been there before. It's Impossible to clean! It'll never be ready! There's no way I can do all this!

Take me to your pool!

What's In Your Pool Shed

The Tools You Need

Before we tackle that abyss there are a few things you need before you start.

No matter if you have an above-ground or below-ground swimming pool, the tools are pretty much the same. If you don't have a pool cover, there will be one extra tool you need. Alright, let's see what you have.

A telescopic pole, 1-1/2 inch vacuum hose, leaf skimmer, pool floor and wall brush, vacuum head and for those leaves, if you don't have a cover, a leaf vacuum.

You will also need to inventory your chemical supplies.

A quality test kit so you can monitor your pool's health. Chlorine or chlorine substitute if you know you don't use chlorine, like salt or ionization system. If you don't know anything about that, you probably just use chlorine.

If you are missing any of these basic items or they are broken, you will need to replace them.

Don't forget about your pool filter. You'll need to replace the sand or media designed for use in it.

You ready to start? Let's go!

Before Filling Your Pool - You'll Need The Following

Hydro Tools 8375 8- to 16-Foot Adjustable Commercial Fiberglass Telescopic Pool Pole
Hydro Tools 8375 8- to 16-Foot Adjustable Commercial Fiberglass Telescopic Pool Pole

Lasts longer than aluminum. Never use aluminum near power lines. A little heaver than aluminum.

 

Getting The Leaves Out Helps Fill Your Pool

Don't add more water than you need to start

Connect your garden hose and telescopic pole to the leaf vacuum. You can also put a tennis ball inside the bag to help keep the bag upright when cleaning the leaves up so it does not topple over.

This is where it gets a little messy! Go slow and don't rush.

Lower the leaf vacuum into the pool and turn the water on. You don't have to get every one out right away. Just don't miss a four foot section of leaves and try to vacuum that with your pool filter vacuum head. You'll clog everything in no time and that's not simple.

If you can't see the top of the bag where the leaves are, gently raise the pole so you can see how full the bag is. When it is almost full, kink the hose if you are doing this alone and step on the kink in the hose to shut off the water.

Yuck, that's disgusting! I know, it's not the creature from the Black Lagoon even though you might think so. Yes you can touch it, it won't hurt! It's heavy too, so don't try to raise the whole thing out of the water at once. Grab the frame, then the bag.

Untie the bag and find the tennis ball and grab hold of it. Dump the leaves into something close by or on the ground. Remember you are stepping on the hose, so unless you want a rather spectacular fountain and get wet, don't go too far!

You can gently release some pressure from the hose to wash the bag if you wish, but is not necessary.

Just continue in this fashion until you are satisfied you have found most of the leaves. No, I don't think a flashlight will help you see any better down there from mixing all the leaves and debris in the water.

Kink the hose again and remove it from the vacuum head and just let the pool finish filling. The pool is full when the water level is half the height of the wall skimmer.

What Can You Do Waiting For The Pool To Fill

Part 1 - Above-Ground Pool

Depending on how long it took to get the leaves out and how full you left the pool last year, it might take an hour or so. What can you do in the mean time before we get to the next cleaning phase?

Connect your pool filter and its components. Replace the filter sand. Most pool filter units have an instruction sticker on it going through the steps needed to put he filter or pool in operation.

When replacing the sand, remove the filter head. You probably drained it from last year, so just tip it over and rinse out the filter and replace it with the recommended amount. Reattach the filter head. Check the hose connections from the filter head to the return, about midway on the wall of the pool. Don't open the valve just yet.

Check the hose connections from the filter head to the filter pump.

Check the hose connections to the filter pump from the wall skimmer located near the top edge of the pool. Now would also be a good time to see if the skimmer basket is not broken and in place.

Also check the filter basket on the pump from the wall skimmer. Make sure it is clean. Open the valve from the wall skimmer to the filter pump.

What Can You Do Waiting For The Pool To Fill

Part 2 - Below-Graound Pool

Your pool is probably close to full or is full at this time. You may have had a cover on it all winter so you did not have to get the leaves out. Your filter may also be located inside a shed or building near the pool and would be hooked up already.

Lets just do some checks.

If you need to replace the sand, make sure the intake and return valves are off. Drain the filter and empty the sand and replace it. Depending on the size of your pool, you might not be able to dump the filter over or not have the room to do so, so you'll need to scoop it out.

Check the basket on the filter pump to make sure it is clean. Open the intake valve a little and let some water fill the basket on the pump. Close the lid to make sure it is secure and open the intake valve, and return valves all the way.

Make sure the breaker or cutoff switch is on and start the filter. You may also have a timer for when the filter runs and stops and should be turned on as well.

The Pool Is Full

Now what

Alright, you're doing great!

Now you can open the return valve and listen to all the gurgling and bubbling sounds. Turn the filter on after the bubbling stops.

It looks worse now than before I started, did I do something wrong? Nope, you just did an initial stirring of the black cauldron in front of you! Don't worry, it will be a sparkling oasis of a blue lagoon soon enough!

The filter will start to remove the debris floating in the water and help clear it up. If you have a below-ground pool with a bottom drain,don't open it just yet until you can see the bottom.

Let the filter run for 24 hours and next we'll grab some chemicals and add it to the pool at this time.

***** WARNING *****

READ ALL LABELS BEFORE USE

I don't want to sound harsh here, but it may sound that way. You will need some extra help here from some pretty nasty chemicals, so make sure your children and pets are well out of the area.

If you are uncomfortable using any chemicals or this is your first time using these chemicals, please see your local authorized pool dealer for proper handling, storage, use and any related MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) sheets for any chemical you buy, store or use.

Have an ABC fire extinguisher on hand just in case of an accident. Make sure you have a first aid kit available to treat any accidents.

Have an extra person who can see you but is not in the immediate area where they can get help if an emergency happens.

Know what to do in case of fire, accidental ingestion, inhalation, eye contact, skin contact and inhalation of any vapor, mist, spray or dust.

These chemicals are caustic and will eat any soft tissue of the nasal passages, mucus membranes of the mouth, cause burns and blisters on the skin, can cause blindness if splashed or sprayed in the eyes, some can be highly flammable, no smoking, matches or open flames near any of these chemicals or storage location.

I cannot stress this enough. I will not be held liable for any misuse, improper use, improper storage, splashing, spilling, vapor, dust, fire, child or pet access, accidental ingestion by child, adult or pet of any chemical I recommend here whether intended or accidental.

These chemicals must be handled, used and stored properly. Preferably under lock and key.

Do not store pool chemicals with pool toys or any other accessory that you might accidentally ask a child to get his or her toy or tool and accidentally come into contact with any chemical you may have on hand.

Do not mix, open, dump, transfer, pour any chemical into another container or mix chemicals into a container inside a closed area. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area with plenty of fresh air.

Use chemical gloves and proper eye protection with a shield. Use a respirator.

Do not remove any labels from containers.

I apologize for the stern warning, but I just want you to know what you are getting into before you begin.

Everyone still here? Good.

Let's continue!

Grab Your Lab Coat - You'll need these items next

In The Swim 3 Inch Pool Chlorine Tablets 50 lbs.
In The Swim 3 Inch Pool Chlorine Tablets 50 lbs.

Individually wrapped for your convenience.

 
Poolmaster 33440 1-1/2" x 40' In-Ground Vacuum Hose - Classic Collection
Poolmaster 33440 1-1/2" x 40' In-Ground Vacuum Hose - Classic Collection

Swivel Cuff feature will not twist and tangle the hose while vacuuming your pool.

 

Do I Have To Be A Scientist

Na, it's pretty easy

We need some Shock! No, not electricity, that stuff will kill you!

I mean some chemical shock. Yep it's concentrated liquid chlorine. It kills all the bacteria and organisms that made your pool a home during the winter months when you stopped using it last year. Well it's time for their eviction notice!

Just add what the label tells you to add for how many gallons of water are in your pool. Now you can enjoy the rest of your day while the shock and filter do most of the work for you. Check back in a few hours and see how it looks. The water should start to clear and not looking so black. Check the pressure on the filter, you may or may not need to backwash at this time.

Chlorine dissipates while the sun is beaming down on the pool, so you might need another shock treatment to make it a little clearer. What are those dark black strips along the bottom? Oh those were the leaves you missed. Just hook up your leaf vacuum again and get them out, now that you can finally see them a little. Then do another shock treatment.

Add your dose of chlorine in the evening. The label on the container will tell you how much to use. Tomorrow the water should be just about crystal clear and you can see all the dirt on the bottom of the pool floor.

When I was younger my Dad always used granular chlorine. Every evening I watched him add one to two scoops of dry powered chlorine to a dry empty 5 gallon bucket. Wow, it stunk bad! Takes your breath away when you get a whiff of that stuff!

We would walk out to the pool and he would dunk the bucket into the water to fill it almost all the way up. He would stir it for a few minutes and let it sit for a few more, then give it a final stir.

He would take the bucket to the return port and slowly pour it in. When he got to the bottom, he added more water and stirred it a little more and slowly poured that in. The last little bit he would shake into the wall skimmer so we would not get the undissolved granules all over the bottom of the pool.

Cool, give yourself a pat on the back, that wasn't so had now was it!

You said it was impossible, but look, your in the home stretch now!

Want More Details And A Handy Reference - Get the Book

Go Grab Your Pole

It's a brand new day

No, we're not going fishing! We need to finish the pool first. There better not be any fish in there either!

Wow, I can see clearly now the black is gone!

Congratulations on your first pool start up and how do you clean a swimming pool tutorial!

Check the pressure on the filter. You can do a backwash at this time, because we are going to get ready to vacuum the floor now.

Grab the hose, pole and vacuum head and run out back.

Depending on your pool, connect the hose to the vacuum head and pole.

For a below-ground pool, sink the head close to the bottom and get as much air out of the hose as possible. Now attach it to the wall skimmer. Depending on your wall skimmer, remove the basket, the hose will either fit right into the opening or you will have a 2 part plate and connector to attach the hose to.

For an above-ground pool, hold the vacuum head close to the surface but below the water level. Hold the other end of the hose over the return port. Yes, it is pretty strong pressure, but it does not have to be held too tight next to it. You should see millions of bubbles not a fountain. If you weren't paying attention, don't worry you didn't miss much, you'll see it next time.

The key here is slow. I mean almost a snails pace. If you go whipping around you end up stirring the dirt up and not cleaning much, because you will need to repeat the process again in a few hours.

Start on the edges and work your way to the middle. Keep an eye on the pressure and don't let the vacuum head out of the water or you'll be sucking in air to the filter pump and that is not too good.

You'll probably need to backwash a few times during your initial vacuuming. This keeps the debris out of the filter and keeps the suction up.

Depending on how often the pool is used will determine how often a vacuuming is needed. During heavy use, a cleaning every other day might be needed, but most of the time you can get by with a weekly cleaning. Just keep an eye on the pool floor and when you see the dirt building up, it's time to start cleaning.

If all went well, congratulations! Good job!

Testing, Testing, 123

Can anyone hear me

Now is a great time to grab that test kit. It gives a bunch of details about your water quality, chlorine, pH and alkalinity levels.

Testing your pool water will let you know if it is safe or not to swim. Too much chlorine and your eyes will burn and your skin and hair will dry out. You can also smell the chlorine too.

The more balanced your water the better it will feel. Less burning eyes, dry skin and hair.

You can find a lot of information online about your pool water and what the test results mean and what you can do to raise and lower pH and alkalinity for a better swimming experience.

Now you're ready for some backyard fun!

I hope you have enjoyed your stay!

Thank you

How Do You Clean Your Pool? - Do you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you?

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    • Frankie Jr profile image
      Author

      Frankie Jr 4 years ago from Texas

      @artbyrodriguez: Yes it can be a chore, but it can be done for a lot less than hiring a cleaning service!

      Thanks for posting.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 4 years ago from Albany New York

      Great instructions. I like to use my daughters pool...and I know it's a chore to clean it .

    • Frankie Jr profile image
      Author

      Frankie Jr 4 years ago from Texas

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks Susan, I'm glad you like the information!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We used to have an above-ground pool and we did it ourselves. Wish we would have had your advice back then!