An over-ground pool can provide hours of fun and recreation.
Here's a checklist of basic maintenance steps to help keep your pool safe and clean:
The first time you fill your pool, take a quart of water from about 18 inches below the surface and have a pool dealer analyze it. The dealer will recommend an initial stabilizing treatment and the correct long-range treatment to keep the pool chemically stabilized. Have the water analyzed again at the start of each swimming season and whenever water problems occur.
Buy a chlorine and pH (acidity/alkalinity balance) test kit. Test the water daily for the first two weeks of the season; twice a week thereafter is probably enough. Maintain a chlorine residual level of 1 to 2 parts per million (p.p.m.) and a pH of 7.4 to 7.6. An incorrect pH reduces the chlorine's efficiency and can damage the pool liner. Follow label directions when adding pH adjusters or any chemicals.
Use stabilized organic chlorine to sanitize the pool water. The most effective form of chlorine is solid pellets fed continuously into the water from a dispenser; powdered chlorine must be added by hand every day or two.
To neutralize organic wastes, super-chlorinate the pool every two weeks, preferably in the evening. Add a commercial oxidizer or five to 10 times the normal daily dose of powdered chlorine (the residual level should be 10 p.p.m.), then run the pump overnight. Stay out of the pool for 12 hours. Add an algae inhibitor to the pool every two weeks, preferably the morning after the oxidizing treatment.
To filter out sand, dirt and other solids, run the pump as often and as long as it takes to clarify the water (experience and your pool dealer will help you determine how long is necessary). Check the pressure gauge daily. If the pressure in the sand filter exceeds the level recommended by the filter manufacturer, back-flush the filter according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Once a week, clean the pool surface with a leaf net, brush down the liner and vacuum as needed. Periodically clean the skimmer's catch basket. With the pump off, remove and clean the hair and lint filter. Repair chipped paint or rust spots on frames or steel walls. Fix liner leaks with a pool-patching kit.
When ready to close the pool at the end of the season, treat the water with a winterizing kit. Clean the pool and back-flush the filter. Drain the pool to about four inches below the skimmer. Drain the water from the pump and filter and store them indoors. Cover the pool with a mesh or solid cover.