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.

Landscaping Around Your Pool And Hot Tub: How to Choose the Perfect Plants

There should be a lot of thought when planning the landscaping around your pool and hot tub. After all, it’s not just a matter of planting what looks good. You also need to worry about planting what is good for your pool and hot tub. Issues to consider include whether the plants will shed into the water, if they have thorns that could possibly hurt swimmers, or if they have invasive roots (the last thing you’d want near a pool or a hot tub). Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to planning the plant-life around your pool or hot tub.

Ideal Planting

A pool or hot tub and the plants around it should create a luxurious and relaxing space, where one can both lounge and entertain. It is important that the plants you place around your pool or hot tub are in line with the look and feel you want to create. Ideally, you want to surround your pool area with plants that create privacy, add texture, and bring some color. Plant sun perennials (such as windflowers or day lilies) to transform this area into an oasis. Plant bamboo, hedges, or palm trees to create a tropical fence about the pool (but note that palm trees do shed and can be messy). Mix a variety of plants in multiple shapes and sizes to add the most texture and get the most out of this area’s landscaping.

What to Plant

While you may be looking to achieve a specific theme or vibe with the vegetation you plant, there are some important things to consider. First and foremost is the type of plants that work, not just around the water, but in the area where you live. For example, in desert climates, cacti, agave, or palm trees would work perfectly around your pool or hot tub. But in that same climate, it might be difficult to keep certain types of flowers or shrubbery alive. It can be difficult or costly to try to keep plants that require more attention or water in hotter, drier areas of the country than it would be in areas that receive plenty of rain or enjoy more mild temperatures. Always do plenty of research before choosing the plants for landscaping.

Problems Vegetation Can Present

One of the main problems that any plant can present for a pool is shedding; acorns, leaves, blades of grass, or berries can be a pool or hot tub’s worst enemy. Beyond just causing extra maintenance or cleaning, these things can stain the pool’s floor and walls, as well as the deck surrounding the pool. And when it comes to maintenance, they can throw your entire water chemistry out of balance, leading to cloudy water or algae outbreaks.

Two more things to consider are how the plant takes root and whether or not it will drop pollen. Overgrown roots tend to grow towards a water source and, when they’re right next to a pool, that pool becomes the water source their roots reach for. This can lead to erosion of the soil around your pool or hot tub, uneven pool decking, or a complete shift in the pool’s structural integrity. Pollen can cause an algae breakout in the pool and invite some unwanted and pesky insects to the area.

Bottom Line

Choosing the proper, beneficial plant-life to place around your pool has practically endless benefits. Aside from creating the perfect look or atmosphere, you can provide shade, privacy, and even play a hand in dictating your pool’s temperature. Picking the perfect vegetation may seem daunting, but always remember that the primary goal should be to keep it simple. Personal preference and geographic location will always dictate what you want and choose to plant, but also remember to consider the shedding and rooting of each plant.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year-round, 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.