New Pool? Tips for Getting Water Ready for Swimming

You wanted a pool, longing to jump into cool water after a hot day, splashing with your family on the weekends, or floating around with a cocktail after work. So, you researched. You planned and consulted. You purchased, you landscaped, and you waited.

Congratulations on your new pool! A pool full of new water isn’t safe to swim in right away. To get the most out of it (and protect your investment), you need to prepare it before welcoming swimmers. pHin team put together what you need to know to get your water safe and ready for swimming:

Assemble your tools.

Every pool owner should have a standard set of tools they use to test and treat their pool water. That includes:

  • A water test kit
  • Pool brushes and cleaning tools
  • Chemicals
    • Chlorine or salt, depending on your system
    • Baking soda
    • Muriatic acid: One of the chemicals used to lower pH and total alkalinity in pools. Follow the instructions on the label, and make sure it is compatible with your pool; some muriatic acid can’t be used in hot tubs or with fiberglass, vinyl, or painted pools.
    • Sequestering agent: Iron and copper can build up in your pool. Sequestering agents help prevent staining and scaling by suspending the metal particles in solution.

Test the pool water.

Take your first water measurements with test strips to get the pH, chlorine, and total alkalinity levels of the water. You can purchase a test kit at your local pool store, or online.

Safe water should have pH between 6.8 and 7.2, and total alkalinity between 70 and 80 ppm.

There is a range for an optimal pH, which should then be raised between 8 7.1 and 7.7 for chlorine pools and 7.0 and 7.5 for salt pools. Lower pH provides better sanitizing benefits. At the same time, this will raise the total alkalinity. For example, concrete pools should have total alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, where painted, vinyl, or fiberglass pools should be between 125 and 170 ppm.

Remember, whenever you’re adding chemicals to your pool, use extra caution to prevent them from touching your skin or eyes, by using gloves or goggles. Keep the chemicals secured and stored safely away from children and pets.

Grab your scrub brush.

To get the water balance right, you’ll need to keep your pool clean.

As a best practice, brush the pool often using a nylon brush. Particles, leaves, or dirt can get stuck in corners, steps, and other crevices, so make sure they get extra attention. You can also use a pool skimmer to catch leaves or bugs that accumulate on the surface overnight.

After the pool is balanced, you may want to add algaecide. Always check with your manufacturer to make sure it’s compatible with your pool, how much to add, and when it would be safe to swim.

Let the water settle.

Your pool water needs time to run through the system. Allow the pump to run for 1-2 days, and, as you add chemicals through the process, you may need to wait a few days in between to allow for stabilization.

You should also wait until the chemicals settle before using a heater or vacuum. If you don’t wait, it could interfere with the pool’s curing time, which can cause long-term damage. Some experts recommend letting your pool cure for 21 days, but it’s best to check with your manufacturer or local pool expert to determine the most suitable time-frame.

Set your pool care routine.

Once your pool is open and ready for swimming, you need to set a routine to keep it safe. Schedule weekly water test strips and chemical adjustments.

If you’re brand new to pools, testing, and chemicals, technology like the pHin Smart Water Monitor can remove the guesswork of water care. Instead of testing just once a week, pHin gives you a clear picture of your water quality in real-time. The device takes over 1,000 measurements a week (few pool owners can match that by hand!), and sends alerts, reminders, and chemical dose instructions in the app. See what users think of pHin.

6 Awesome Winter Pool Hacks

6 Awesome Winter Pool Hacks. It seems that everyone loves finding a great life hack. And, why not? They make you feel like you won something, earned the extra credit points, almost like the vending machine returning two treats for the price of one.

Hacks for pool care are especially great. It seems as though, every time you turn around, there’s another contraption to buy, another chemical to take care of problem you’ve never heard of. Over your pool’s lifetime, you accumulate many of these items. The following swimming pool hacks specifically geared toward winter weather not only help you save money, they also use items you probably have in the house already.

  1. Use an Aquarium Net for Your Skimmer

If you live in an area that remains relatively warm most of the winter, chances are you remove leaves and other debris from your pool’s surface skimmer year-round. The problem? Even though you aren’t wading through snow to get to your pool, that water is still plenty cold. Fishing around with your bare hands in 50-degree water makes even the most die-hard pool owner avoid winter maintenance.

Enter the aquarium net. The same little gadget you use to gather fish when it’s time to clean the tank (or for more tragic reasons) comes in handy when the pool water feels icy cold. Just dip the net into your skimmer to fish out leaves, sticks, bugs, and any other debris. Of course, you can use this throughout the year, but it is especially handy during the winter months. Additionally, there is a device found at your local pool store called the “Skimmer Angel”, which attaches to most baskets, enabling the pool owner to have an extended handle above water level.

  1. Balance Alkalinity with Baking Soda

When people aren’t swimming, they tend to pay less attention to the chemistry of their pool water. Of course, if your pool has water in it, you need to check it regularly, just as you do during summer months. If it’s been awhile since you tested your water, you may discover your alkalinity levels need adjusting. Instead of buying sodium bicarbonate from the pool store, head to your freezer for that box of baking soda. If you have one of the only 10 freezers in North America without a box of baking soda, you can find it at the grocery store.

Not sure how much to use? The sodium bicarbonate concentration is baking soda is the same as you find in your pool solution, meaning you add exactly the same amount to balance your pool water.

  1. Use a Leaf Blower to Clear Your Winter Pool Cover

Throughout winter, your pool cover becomes the home of leaves and other debris. You know you need to keep it clean, but reaching the center of the cover presents a challenge. If you own a leaf blower, however, clearing that debris is a breeze (pun fully intended). Just wait for a dry day, fire up the leaf blower, and point it at the pool cover. Use care to keep from damaging the cover.

  1. Use an Air Pillow with Your Pool Cover

Don’t have a leaf blower? No problem. Keep your cover free of debris with an air pillow. This turns your flat cover into a dome, ensuring leaves, snow, ice, and debris slide right off. Just make sure to secure the cover first. You don’t want all that stuff sliding into the pool water.

Wondering how to get that pillow to stay in place? A bit of heavy-duty Velcro does the trick. Two hacks in one!

  1. Prevent Damage to Your Above Ground Pool with Milk Jugs

Winter weather can wreak havoc on an above ground pool. You know to leave water in the pool, to keep those walls upright. If a leak occurs after closing the pool, and a snowstorm hits, it can be disastrous, even if you hold your pool cover in place with wire cables. Those cables may actually help pull down the walls of your pool.

Instead, stockpile empty milk jugs in the weeks leading up to winter. When it’s time to close the pool, place filled milk jugs all around, spaced a few feet apart. Then, secure the jugs to the pool cover, looping rope or string through the cover’s eyelets and through the handles of the milk jugs.

  1. Use Stockings in Your Skimmer

This hack works all year as well: Pantyhose in the skimmer, although, knee-high stockings work better, because they’re smaller. Simply place the stocking in the skimmer to help filter out fine debris, such as pet hair and dirt. This extends the life of your filter and results in less cleaning for you.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced no matter what time of year it is, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.