There is nothing like taking your first leap into a cool pool to beat the summer heat. But before you invite the neighbors over for a pool party, be sure to give it a good sprucing up. Here's a short checklist from local professionals that should help get your pool into working order just in time for the scorching Southern Oregon summer.
Prepare your yard. Do your trimming, planting and yard cleanup prior to working on cleaning your pool. By doing all your preparation around the pool first, you will save time and frustration in the long run by keeping your pool clear of yard debris, says Greg Gargas, owner of Paradise Pools in Ashland. And no debris will get in your clean pool!
Having and maintaining a swimming pool is an expensive task, both financially and environmentally. But there are ways to save money and energy while enjoying your personal sanctuary.
Pool owners who use salt water systems understand that they're not only being friendlier to the environment, but also to themselves. The salt system is a natural and gentler form of treatment than using harsh bleaching chemicals like chlorine.
"You just add table salt to the water, and the chlorinator converts the salt into chlorine," says Lisa Parker, owner of Valley Pool Center in Central Point.
Local businesses around the valley like Valley Pool Center and Paradise Pools sell and install eco-friendly pool alternatives. Earth friendly technology like solar heaters, blankets, covers and timer pumps can cut the energy bills generated by maintaining a pool in half.
"The average pool loses about six degrees of heat at night," says Parker. "A solar blanket will help control that heat loss." It also controls evaporation of water and chlorine content, which saves time, too.
"Sun eats chlorine, so if you put the solar blanket on while you're at work you'll save money by keeping water and chlorine in the pool," she says.
Evaluate your equipment. Make sure all your equipment is in working condition; including pumps, plumbing, filters, the cover, solar equipment, and electrical checks. Maintain your filters. If you have a sand filter, then back wash it. If you have a cartridge filter then take out the cartridges and rinse them out before running the pool, says Lisa Parker, owner of Valley Pool Center in Central Point.
Clean all debris and vegetation from the pool. All the chemicals in the world won't prevent a pool from turning green if there is winter vegetation living in it. Give your pool a thorough cleaning by first scraping out the debris and then vacuuming it. Gargas advises pool owners to clean out the baskets as you go along to prevent the vacuum from getting clogged or from recycling debris back into the water. After the vegetation and chemicals are taken care of, then you can brush the sides of the pool for a more thorough clean.
Balance your chemicals. Once this is done, then the water should be cleared up enough to see what is left to clean, says Gargas. Testing for chlorine, PH, and alkalinity are essential. Chlorine keeps the water bacteria free, but it works together with the other chemicals. The chlorine won't do what it should if the PH and alkalinity are out of check. Even if the water is clear, don't assume the chemical balance is safe. For everybody's safety, check it before swimming. Have chlorine or shock treatment on hand for use after a pool party. Parker says that even a clean pool can turn green if a large group of people go swimming in it.
Make sure everything is safe around the pool. Gargas says that this is the most important step in preparing your pool for the season. Double check that all your gates, covers, alarms on your doors going out to the pool area and automatic closing gates are in top working condition. There are numerous mandatory safety regulations placed on swimming pool owners that are enforced at the time of construction. Any new regulations are the owner's responsibility to ensure that they are maintained. Contact your local city hall for information on your city's regulations. In Medford, swimming pools must have a four-foot high barrier with no more than a four-inch opening in the gate. The pool has to be completely enclosed in fencing. The latch must be on the inside of the gate so it's not accessible to the outside. Any doors leading directly into the pool area from a dwelling must have an alarm on it. Even if there is not a child in the home, these regulations are enforced to protect neighbor kids and visitors.
Of course, if the thought of getting your pool ready yourself makes you green around the gills, you could always pay somebody to do it for you. Professional service costs will vary depending on the amount of maintenance your pool received in the winter. Parker says for an average sized pool of 10,000-15,000 gallons it costs roughly $175 to start up a green pool for the summer (that's green with algae, not eco-friendly). If it's a clear pool, then it is roughly $100 for minimal cleanup and light chemicals.