May 27, 2015

Lessons of a Pool Owner

My personal list of lessons learned from managing an above ground pool in New England.

Make a note of anything that you'll need to buy in the fall (Missing pieces, broken pillow)

When you plan ahead, you will save time and money. Some pool shops will have special deals throughout the spring on leftover fall inventory. Also if you don't need it right away, you can order online and select the cheapest shipping option.

You could save on buying pool covers to make room for the new inventory or in some cases on fairly used one on Craigs list.

Some common things you may need: Pool Cover, Cover clips, ropes, better chemicals, side brush, bigger leaf rake and a new pillow.

Keep everything together.

When you put the winter supplies away, keep things together so that it will make it easy to close the pool in the Fall. It would be very handy to know where the pool cover clamp is. Oh, and storing the cover clips in a grocery plastic bag makes it easy to find in the Fall. I hang the bag on a nail in the back of the shed. Same place every year.

Make sure to spend extra time cleaning the cover and allowing it to dry before folding. This will ensure that your cover has a long life. 30 years above ground covers don't exist, if you have it for more than 5 years you are batting above average.

Test the pool chemicals before turning on the pool filter

The first thing to do when getting the cover off the pool is to test the chemicals. This is your base. Add any water and the run the filter and test the chemical level again. It should be different because of the chlorine and water movement. That's what you should bring to get tested at the pool store.

Check the sand filter drain before starting the filter

This is key. Before starting the sand filter double check all the end points and make sure they are tight. You don't want it too tight, but it needs to be secure.

Don't run the filter unattended for the first few hours!

You never know what can happen. You may have a worn out hose or the water pressure may pop out the filter drain. You should be near the filter to respond to any unexpected action that happens.

In 2011, we encountered a situation where a hose had a tiny hole in it because of how it was stored. The hole didn't show up until about 20 minutes after running the filter. The water slowly shot out of the house until it got bigger. Lucky that I was around to turn off the filter and then stop the water while I replaced the hose.

Take inventory of what chemicals you have in stock before going to the pool store.

When you get the pool water tested, you should know what you have in the shed and more importantly how much you have. Don't forget to check the dates too ! Do you have any Aligicide, PH Up or down?

Knowing what you have on hand can help make sure don't waist chemicals that you do have on hand. Also make note if you need to stock up on other supplies. Most patch kits rubber cement only last one season. Do you have and extra hoses? How about clamps? You don't want to be caught off guard if an accident happens.

Know your pool!

How many gallons is your pool? Don't go by what the package says because you may have more or less water than you think. Measure how much water is in the pool and the times it by the width.

This will be extremely useful as you'll know how much chemicals to put in. You may find that your not putting in enough and that's why it takes forever to balance the pool.

Keep a Pool log

Having a log of what you do to the pool will help future similar situations. It's also useful tracking all the chemical expenses. So if it seems that chlorine appears to be more expensive in August, you'll know how much you paid. In addition you'll know exactly how much chemicals you use in a season so you can make wise decisions on when to buy things in bulk.

You don't need to be fancy with a logging. You can use any notebook and a pen. You can even have an envelope and record things in the off-season for future reference. Key thing to record are the dates and why you took action.

Some example logging:

July 4 - Added 3 cups of PH down after a heavy rain storm
July 6 - Spent an hour cleaning the side of the pool for the party
August 3 - Removed dead bird from pool

We found the local pool places are not very helpful in the middle of the summer. Usually the summer help isn't always that knowledge. So keeping ahead of the game is certainly key, otherwise you may pay for some bad advice.

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