- Remove the pool cover (not everyone thinks a pool should be covered, and not everyone does, so this particular advice doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone). Fold and store the cover in a clean, dry place.
- Check the pump, skimmer and filter. Make sure all your mechanical equipment is clean and functional. Vacuum the pool if necessary. Newly plastered arizona custom pools should not be vacuumed for several weeks, until the plaster on the bottom and sides hardens.
- Check your test kit. Make sure it’s in good working order. Accuracy is very important to the life span of a pool. That means each season you need to buy new reagents to get accurate readings. Faulty testing-reagents can mean false answers and a costly and wasteful misuse of chemicals.
- Take a sample of the pool water. Use a clean plastic container. Take the sample, about a quart, to a dealer for testing. Almost all swimming pool companies offer this service free of charge.
- Check the chlorine level. Determine the amount of chlorine in the water and write it down. Don’t adjust it yet - wait until a later retest. The ideal amount is 1.0 to 1.5 ppm (parts per million parts of pool water). A reading below 0.6 means you don’t have enough chlorine power; above 3.0 you’ve got too much. You’re wasting chlorine and money.
- Check and adjust total alkalinity. This is the measurement of the alklines in the water. They act as buffering agents, preventing big changes in the pH and avoiding corrosion and staining. In plaster pools, a measurement of 80 to 125 ppm is ideal; in vinyl, painted and fiberglass pools, it should be 125 to 150 ppm.
Total alkalinity should be adjusted before adjusting pH. Pool supply stores sell chemicals to boost or lower total alkalinity.
- Test and adjust the pH. This is the most important pool test.
The pH reading is the degree of acidity or alkalinity of pool water. The correct pH range for plaster pools is 7.4 to 7.6; for non-masonry pools like vinyl, painted and fiberglass, 7.6 is preferable. Frequent pH adjustments may be necessary in a new plaster pool before the plaster cures and settles down.
A low pH indicates over-acidity. This causes chlorine to dissipate fast, and leads to corrosion of pool parts and damage to pool surfaces.
A high pH reduces chlorine’s sanitizing strength. This could result in growth of bacteria and algae, clouding of water and scaling on pool pipes, equipment and surfaces.
- Measure stabilization. This is the amount of stablizer or cyanuric acid in your pool. Ideally it should be about 40 ppm - this prevents sunlight from dissipating chlorine.
- Check calcium hardness. Make sure the calcium hardness is not too low to prevent etching of plaster and corrosion of metal equipment. The desired range in plaster pools is 200-250 ppm. A slightly lower range of 175-225 ppm is needed for all other pools.
- Add a superchlorinator to the pool water to kill any microbes that might be resistant to the ordinary daily treatment. A “burnout” treatment oxidizes water-soluble, non-filterable swimmer wastes and assures comfortable swimming.
- Retest free (usable) chlorine and pH. Adjust if necessary.