It’s summertime. The radio’s going. The grill’s fired up. You’re ready for some pool-time fun, but is your swimming pool ready for you? If you have and regularly use a comprehensive maintenance kit, you won’t have to worry about the hygiene of the water or whether the pump can handle the heavy load of a pool full of people.
Skimmers, returns, the pump, the filter, the water itself, the walls and the floor – There are many components that require routine maintenance. Most tasks need to be done on a weekly basis while other tasks can be handled monthly in some circumstances.
With all the parts you must maintain, you’re going to need a lot of tools such as a telescopic pole. You’ll also need a net, a brush and a vacuum. Testing strips, chlorine dispensers and various chemicals are required to keep the water hygienic. If you have an above-ground pool, vinyl patches should also be in your arsenal.
You can purchase these and other tools in bundles or separately. Our list provides details on the best pool maintenance kits out there. We also wrote a buyer’s guide that offers invaluable information to pool-owning newbies and long-time pool owners who want to save money by firing their pool guy and taking over pool maintenance themselves.
Best Pool Maintenance Kits
Pool Maintenance Kit Buying Guide
Before you do any type of maintenance to your swimming pool, you need to know all the parts involved in a pool’s circulation system and how each one works. The majority of your maintenance must be done on a weekly basis; however, there are some monthly tasks to do.
Weekly maintenance concentrates on algae, debris and sediment removal, which involves skimming, brushing, sanitizing, and other tasks. Monthly maintenance goes more in-depth, but less work is involved. Every month, you’ll need to perform equipment checks and possibly shock the water.
Pool Water Circulation
To circulate the water, the typical in-ground swimming pool requires a pump, a filter, skimmers, and returns. Some also have a heater and a chemical feeder. All of these components are connected by PVC pipes, and each part must work properly to keep the water clean and circulate pool chemicals.
At the heart of the circulation system, there is a pump, which pulls water through the skimmers and main drains via an impeller. The skimmers collect water a little bit at a time and capture large waterline debris in their strainer baskets. An equalizer line prevents air from entering the pump, which has its own strainer.
Then, the water flows through a cartridge or a sand/diatomaceous earth filter. The filter traps particles in pleats (cartridges) or between granules (sand/DE). If the pool has a heater, the water then goes through it, and the heater adjusts the temperature by trapping and redistributing the heat.
Some pools also have a feeder that slowly releases chemicals into the water. The feeder is the next flow-through point for the water. Finally, the water is put back into the swimming pool through return outlets. Most pools are equipped with vacuum ports for pool maintenance. They run off the main pump but may use a dedicated pump.
Components of a Pool Maintenance Kit
When piecing together a pool maintenance kit, first get a pole. It should be sturdy and telescopic, so you can adjust its length without it buckling under the weight of the tool attached. While not an exhaustive list, the tools you should have and use in conjunction with a pole include a vacuum, a net and a brush.
Big debris can destroy a pool pump. Therefore, you need to have equipment that captures large particles. A skimmer vacuum plate lets you suction debris into the skimmer basket instead of the pump basket. A leaf bagger lifts debris from the pool floor, and a leaf trap prevents clogs by collecting debris before it enters the skimmer basket.
You’ll need testing strips to determine the water’s hygiene level. You should have chemicals to lower and raise the pH. A clarifier can correct cloudy water, and muriatic acid gets rid of stains. Algaecide is another pool chemical you’ll need to keep on hand. Depending on the sanitizer you use, you’ll also need chlorine, bromine or salt.
Whether you have an in-ground or above-ground swimming pool, you need a way to fix leaks should they occur. For an above-ground pool, you’ll need patches that can stick to dry or wet vinyl. Pool putty works for underwater cracks in concrete in-ground pools, and sealant is ideal for pool plumbing repair.
Recommended Maintenance Schedule: Weekly
Testing the pH level is one weekly maintenance task you should perform without fail. Acidic water leads to skin irritation, surface etching and metal corrosion. High alkalinity causes surface scaling and cloudy water. Plus, unbalanced water renders your sanitizer ineffective.
If the strips show a level above 7.8, you’ll need to add sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid to lower the pH level. If the level is lower than 7.2, the water is too alkaline. To fix it, add sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate to the water. Also, add algaecide every week to prevent cloudy water.
You must also clean the surfaces of your pool each week. Start by skimming the water with a net connected to a telescopic pole. Then, use that same pole with a brush to scour the walls. While the filter is running and set to waste (if a sand/DE style), hook up your vacuum and clean the pool’s surfaces.
Don’t forget to check the waterline height. Evaporation, weekly cleanings and splashing can result in a gradual loss of water while heavy rains can overfill a pool. If there isn’t enough water in your swimming pool, you risk letting air into the skimmer line and pump. If it’s too high, the skimmer won’t be able to collect debris.
Recommended Maintenance Schedule: Monthly
The tools you use won’t do you any good if they aren’t in working order. Every month, inspect and clean all the tools in your maintenance kit and replace any broken components. For example, a ripped net or a cracked leaf trap should be replaced. Also, check all the components of your swimming pool for leaks or worn parts.
Don’t forget the filter. It should be cleaned as a part of your monthly maintenance routine. If you have a cartridge filter, you’ll need to remove the filter media and rinse off the pleats. If you have a sand or DE filter, a backwash will be necessary.
Finally, shock the pool water. Even if you balance the chemicals religiously, bacteria and algae will still accumulate, albeit slowly. For in-ground pools, you must add the shock straight into the pool water. For above-ground vinyl pools, you’ll need pre-dissolved shock. Make sure the filter and pump are running and keep swimmers out of the pool for 8 hours.
How Often Should I Run the Pump?
Although 24 hours is optimal, we understand that most pool owners would balk at the electricity usage. To get a specific time, you’ll need to know the pump’s motor speed and circulation rate as well as the pool’s volume.
However, 8 to 12 hours is a good general guideline as that should allow the water to circulate twice. Two circulation rounds give the filter and pump a chance to distribute pool chemicals and trap small and large debris.
How Do I Backwash My Filter?
If you have a sand or a DE filter, backwashing removes contaminant buildup, relieving internal pressure that could damage the filter. First, turn off the filter and set the multiport valve to backwash. If there isn’t a drain plumbed in, you’ll need to attach a hose to the waste port.
Turn on the filter and run it until the water is clear. Then, turn off the filter again and put the multiport valve on rinse. After you turn on the filter and it runs for 30 seconds, shut off the filter and open the pressure relief valve.
Switch the multiport valve to the filter setting. Keep the pressure relief valve open until you see water flowing from the valve. At this point, you can close the valve and allow the filter to run as it normally does. Make sure you check the pressure gauge. Sometimes you need to backwash twice if the pressure is too high.
Are There Other Times When I Need to Shock the Pool?
You may need to shock your pool to raise the chlorine level outside your maintenance schedule. Heavy use, such as after a pool party, rainstorms and the presence of fecal matter or a dead animal all cause the chlorine level to drop. You should also shock the pool when you detect chloramine and algae blooms.
Pool Maintenance Kits: Recap
A backyard swimming pool offers an awesome party venue, a fun way to enjoy your time outdoors and a convenient place to get some exercise. With all that fun and convenience, there also comes maintenance. Proper and timely maintenance keeps the pool’s circulation system running smoothly and prevents expensive breakdowns.
Many people opt to hire a professional pool service to perform necessary maintenance. However, cost-conscious and DIY-minded people prefer to handle pool maintenance tasks on their own. You can definitely save a ton of money in the long run by maintaining your own pool.
However, you’ll need a kit full of cleaning tools to perform pool maintenance. A complete kit consists of a telescopic pole, a net, a vacuum and an assortment of brushes and pumice stones. You’ll also need a bagger and a trap to take care of big debris as well as test strips and pool chemicals.
It’s not enough just to have and use these tools. You need to know how often to run your pump in order to circulate chemicals and trap debris efficiently. Make sure you also know how to take care of your pool’s filter. Whether it’s a cartridge, sand or diatomaceous earth filter, you’ll need to clean it out every month.