Table of contents
Let’s set the scene.
It’s boxing day. You’ve got the test on and a few mates are coming round to finish off the Christmas leftovers and have a dip in your brand new fibreglass pool.
It’s 43 degrees and the pool is begging to be used.
There’s only one problem. You’ve been a bit lazy this spring and haven’t kept up with your pool maintenance. You thought a quick scrub and scoop would do it, but it still looks green and dodgy, and your mates are now giving you a hard time.
To make matters even worse, the Pommes are winning.
That’s it, you think. There must be a way to fix this. What’s the use of having a beautiful pool if I can’t even swim in it when I want?
Well. We’ve got good and bad news for you.
Most swimming pool maintenance techniques are super easy when done on a regular basis. Better yet, most maintenance tasks are free and take just minutes per day.
However, if they’re pushed to the side and left to compound over time, they can end up being costly and much harder to deal with.
We might not be able to fix the problems with the Australian cricket team, but we sure know how to fix all your swimming pool problems and we’re here to get you into easy swimming pool maintenance mode.
We’ve created this super simple swimming pool maintenance guide that’s full of great pool maintenance tips for beginners.
Let’s get into it.
The Three C’s of Pool Maintenance
If you were to only remember three things from our swimming pool maintenance guide it’s these Three C’s.
They are everything a beginner needs to know about keeping a fibreglass pool clean.
So, let’s take a closer look at each of them.
There’s no reason to sugarcoat this point. Unless you maintain regular circulation in your fibreglass swimming pool, it’ll become stagnant and full of bacteria and algae.
You’ve seen the lakes ducks swim in. The muddy waters of dams on a farm. This isn’t how your pool’s supposed to look. To stop it from getting this way, you need the water to be constantly moving.
Luckily technology’s come to our rescue and you don’t need to be running around in circles creating whirlpools like when you were a kid—although that was pretty fun.
Here are our tips for maintaining swimming pool circulation with jets, pumps and filters.
Let’s start with your pool’s filter recommendations.
How long should you run your filter each day?
While your swimming pool water would get the most benefit from 24/7 filtration, it’s unrealistic, unsustainable and uneconomical for your pump to run constantly.
Taking Aussie weather into consideration, we advise you to run it for 4-6 hours per day during winter and 8-12 hours per day in the summer.
In order to prevent your pool water from remaining stagnant for more than 12 hours, split the filtration time into two or three smaller periods throughout the day—preferably in off-peak electricity periods.
Instead of handling the timing by yourself, let an automatic timer do the work for you.
These recommendations apply only to pool maintenance of inground pools.
Above-ground pools, on the other hand, are less protected from the sun and may require more filtration on summer days.
Why and how to set the direction of your jets
When it comes to circulation, your jets are your number one friend. In our fibreglass pools, they are already installed tactically around your pool to help you maximise water circulation when you set them up properly.
To help you do this, we recommend pointing them in a circular pattern around your pool, angling them slightly downward. By tilting your jets downward (imagine an 8’oclock angle), you also ensure the water at the bottom of your pool is circulating as well, which is important, as stagnant water is your enemy here.
This way, you get a subtle whirlpool effect that prevents the jets from pushing against each other—and you’ll maintain much better water circulation in the corners.
Remember, they should not all be pointing in the same direction!
How often should you clean out your skimmer box?
Simply, every day.
This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually very easy to do once it’s part of your daily routine. Just make sure you check it and empty it in the bin when you get home from work before you even go inside.
Because leaves and debris accumulate in the basket of your skimmer box as your pool cleans, it’ll start to accumulate in the basket quickly—especially if it’s windy and your pool is near bushes and trees.
Just like a clogged vacuum, your circulation system won’t work as well as it should if it’s backed up with leaves and debris.
Remember to check your pump basket at the same time!
Make sure to include a daily skimmer check in this process as well. Just like the basket in your skimmer box, the pump basket will slowly fill up, making it harder for your pump to do its job.
I know, I know, life’s hard.
Lastly, backwash and clean your filter
This step’s a bit more complicated, as there are a few things to look out for and there are a few different types of filters typical Australian pools can have.
You won’t need to clean your filter every day, but we recommend checking it daily when you empty your skimmer and pump basket.
To do this, simply look at the pressure gauge on your filter and check that it’s ranging between 10-15psi. If and when you notice that the pressure gauge is running higher than usual, it’s time to clean or backwash your filter as it’s likely full of debris.
Generally we recommend our clients complete this process if the filter is running 10psi higher than its normal levels.
Okay. So let’s say the pressure in your filter is too high and it’s time for some cleaning. Fun!
Next, you need to know the different processes for the kind of filter you have.
For the benefit of all our readers, we’ll summarise the steps needed for the 3 kinds of pumps residential fibreglass pools have.
- Sand filter—you should backwash and re-check the pressure level.
- Cartridge filters—remove the filter, clean it, and check the pressure.
If cleaning doesn’t fix the pressure rate, you may need to replace the filter.
- DE filters—you must backwash AND replace the filter. Always approach DE filters with eye protection, masks and gloves.
So, we’ve seen how important maintaining circulation is for swimming pool maintenance, now it’s time for the next ‘C’ — Cleaning.
Cleaning plays a vital role in swimming pool maintenance and is perhaps the easiest and most regular thing you can do to ensure that your pool is swimmable next time you have your mates around.
Here is a list of the equipment you’ll need to keep your pool clean and swim ready;
- Telescopic Pole – This handy tool will help you add the cleaning attachments and is essential for reaching across and into the depths of the pool without having to enter the water.
- Leaf Skimmer or Net – Attached to your telescopic pole, a leaf skimmer helps remove leaves, bugs, and other floating debris from the water’s surface.
- Pool Brus -A stiff-bristled brush designed for fibreglass pools is necessary for scrubbing the walls and floor, helping to remove algae and prevent its growth without damaging the surface.
- Pool Vacuum – Whether manual or automatic, a pool vacuum cleans the bottom of the pool, removing dirt, debris, and algae. Manual vacuums attach to the telescopic pole, while automatic vacuums operate independently.
- Filter Cleaner – Keeping your pool’s filter clean is essential for maintaining water clarity and preventing equipment damage. You’ll need a cleaner specifically designed for your type of filter, whether it’s sand, cartridge, or diatomaceous earth (DE).
- Safety Gear – Gloves and goggles should be worn when handling pool chemicals to protect your skin and eyes from irritation.
Regular use of these tools, in conjunction with a consistent cleaning schedule, will help extend the life of your pool and reduce the need for costly repairs down the line.
Pool Cleaning Schedule
|Estimated Time to Complete
|Skimming The Waters For Debris
|5 – 10 minutes
|Brushing The Pool surfaces
|Check chemical levels
|Varies depending on pH readings
|Vacuuming The Pool Floor
|0.5 – 1hr Manually to 1-6 hours with an auto vacuum.
Keeping a regular pool cleaning schedule can save you a lot of time and money later on. A pool that doesn’t get cleaned regularly can grow algae, rust, fall out of PH and chlorine levels and more. So let’s see what it takes to keep your pool clean.
Skimming the surface of your pool
Much like checking your pump and skimmer baskets daily, cleaning the surface of your pool with a pool scoop is something you can bake into your daily routine. It seriously takes a few minutes tops if done every day, and it’s by far one of the easiest ways you’ll prevent filter changes and fibreglass pool wear and tear.
Scoop any leaves or debris off the surface of the water and try and get any that have sunk to the bottom. Since leaves increase the phosphate levels in your pool as they decompose, they play a vital role in promoting algae growth and thus, are important to remove.
Brush the walls, steps and ladders
In areas with low circulation, algae can grow in your pool even with regular filtering. Think about the slippery steps and dark deeper walls.
Although many homeowners overlook this, brushing your swimming pool daily is a vital part of swimming pool maintenance as it prevents algae buildup before it even has a chance to consider getting out of hand.
Vacuum the base of your pool
Okay. Now you can take a deep breath. We’re past all of the little swimming pool maintenance tasks that you’ll need to do daily.
Thankfully, this one is only weekly.
Vacuuming your pool.
When you vacuum your pool weekly, you’ll take a load off your filter and pump system and also help reduce the chemical work that you’ll have to do for your pool maintenance (we’ll cover that next, don’t worry). You can vacuum your pool by hand or via an automatic cleaner (what most Aussies call, a creepy-crawly).
Now the next C is where you need to channel your Walter White. Or Jesse Pinkman, whichever you prefer.
Controlling your pool’s chemistry can be the most daunting part of pool maintenance for beginners.
Fortunately, I was only kidding and you don’t have to be a lab technician to figure out swimming pool water test kits—they’re easy to use and purposely designed for homeowners and beginners.
The chemistry of your pool all starts with water testing. Regular testing of your pool’s pH levels, chlorine, alkalinity, and other chemical balances to keep the water clear and safe for swimming. While some people recommend taking water into your local pool shop for testing there are plenty of ways for you to test your pool water at home using a water testing kit instead. The kit you use and the chemicals you test and then will add to your pool will depend on the type of water you have in your pool so lets break them down.
Water testing kits for chemical pools
There are 3 types of pool test kits available for testing the PH of your chlorinated pool
- test strips,
- liquid reagent kits and
- digital test kits.
Everyone has their preference but, most people find that test strips are the cheapest and easiest for water testing, reagent kits will be much more accurate than test strips but slightly more expensive and reagent refills can be a hassle as you need to keep the same brand for consistency and to maintain the accuracy (mixing reagents can cause inaccuracies), finally, the digital testing kits are the most accurate by far but because of the cost are usually used by professionals.
For your backyard swimming pool any of the above will work but we’d recommend for a new pool owner test strips are best then, as you gain confidence in your abilities moving to a liquid kit or digital can be worth the extra accuracy.
Water testing kits for salt Water Pools
When you’re testing your saltwater pool, you’re not just testing your salt levels. Remember that a salt water pool is still a chlorine pool but the method of adding chlorine is different (through your filter rather than chlorine tablets).
That means that for your saltwater pool tests, you’ll need a digital saltwater tester (can also be called a conductivity test as that is the method it uses to measure salt levels) and, PH tests like those mentioned above in our chlorinated pool section which in most cases will also test for alkalinity, CYA and calcium hardness.
Water testing kits for magnesium or mineral pools
The testing for Magnesium pools is the same as that for saltwater pools except you would be looking for significantly less quantities of salt and chlorine.
Once you’ve tested the water in your pool you’ll need to balance your pool chemistry. Again, this varies by pool water type but, common chemicals you might for this are;
- Chlorine (Stabilized Chlorine or Unstabilized Chlorine) depends on if your pool is indoors, or outdoors or if you are shocking your pool.
- Cyanuric Acid – You may or may not need this depending on your pool. Generally stabilised chlorine will contain this but unstable chlorine won’t
- Bromine – a popular alternative to chlorine.
- Biguanide – another alternative to chlorine we won’t cover much here as differences in the way this chemical helps sanitise your water leads to different pool maintenance requirements.
- Pool Minerals – include silver, copper and other minerals designed to work with chlorine to sanitise your water.
- PH Increaser and PH Decreaser – does exactly what it sounds like. Depending on the PH level of your water you will occasionally want to use one or the other.
- Alkalinity increaser or baking soda – most people will go with baking soda here as it’s cheaper and they are more likely to have some on hand in the house than alkalinity increaser.
- Muriatic acid – Helps to raise alkalinity when levels are extremely low best used in extreme cases instead of baking soda.
- Calcium Increaser – used to increase calcium hardness to stop your pool water from becoming too corrosive.
- Calcium hypochlorite or Chlorine-free shock
- Algaecide – Kills algae that might grow in your pool due to poor maintenance, storms or other external factors. You want to buy this if needed (and hopefully you don’t need it).
- Clarifier and/or Flocculant – clarifier is a great emergency option for cleaning a cloudy pool if you are planning to have a BBQ that afternoon and don’t have time for flocculant to do its thing and to run a vacuum through the pool to remove debris.
- Metal Sequestrant – bonds with and remove metal particles like copper, iron, calcium and manganese in your water to prevent stains, rust and scale from forming on your pool plumbing and walls.
Checking and controlling the chemicals in your pool’s water is another weekly task and should be performed when you are vacuuming your pool.
Below are a few tips to help you maintain its chemistry. For all chemicals and levels that you will need to check, there are simple kits you can buy from your local pool shop.
Keep the pH Balance
With a pool test kit for home usage, you can check pH balance and alkalinity. The pH level of your swimming pool water should range between 7.2 and 7.6, while the normal alkalinity levels vary from 100 to 150 parts per million. If your pool is sitting between these levels, no changes are required.
Monitor Chlorine levels
Chlorine levels are also measured in parts per million, similar to alkalinity. It is recommended to keep chlorine between 1-3 parts per million, ideally at or close to 3. We recommend taking a water sample from your pool into a pool shop for further instructions as to how much chlorine you should add to your fibreglass pool and over what timeframe.
Check Calcium hardness
Normal calcium levels in swimming pool water range from 200 to 400 parts per million.
Low levels of calcium, however, can lead to surface damage on your fibreglass pool, while high levels can harm your pool’s filter system and require the physical removal of the hard calcium deposits.
Shock your pool
Shocking your pool means destroying bacteria and other contaminants with heavier duty sanitiser. We recommend you to do this once every 2-3 weeks after you’re done using the pool for the day.
This can be particularly important to do after large rainfalls in Australia’s tropical summer seasons or wet winters when heavy rainfall can lead to lower quality water and imbalances in your pool’s chemical makeup. There are ‘pool bombs’ that you will be able to find at your local pool shop for this exact purpose, just follow the instructions on the label!
And Now, For the Fourth C—The Conclusion
Pools are a great investment, for both your lifestyle and your property valuation, but like any good things in life, they need to be loved, nurtured and worked on.
By following the Three C’s and making sure you do the little things every day for your pool—scrubbing, checking the filter, scooping the leaves—you will ensure the longevity of your pool and less intensive maintenance work in the future.
If you want more information on the Three C’s and pool maintenance—or anything to do with fibreglass pools—feel free to give us a call!