DIY Pool Maintenance

Pool cleaning and maintenance is not a time-consuming job and is something all pool owners should know how to do.  This will not only save you money, but also costly repairs for systems that fail due to improper maintenance or neglect.  If time is a concern, than hiring a contractor or maintenance service is always an option.  But, like me, I am a DIY'er and I like to do thinks myself.  You can use this as a general guideline, but not every pool is the same and you will have to create your own maintenance schedule for yourself.

Supplies you will need

Personal safety should be your first concern and when working with any type of cleaning agent or chemical you should take the proper protection measures.  This will include safety glasses, protective, waterproof gloves, face or breathing masks, brush or pool brush.  Tools and chemicals required may depend on the type of pool and filter system you have.  Generally, you will need a garden hose and nozzle, cartridge cleaning solution for cartridge type filters.  For DE or Sand filter systems, you will need a back flush hose and connection ( should come with the system ).

Cartridge filter cleaning

The first step is to remove the cartridge and gently rinse of all the loose dirt without a spray nozzle.  Just the running water will do. This will prevent you driving the dirt into the filter itself.  Inspect the filter for damage or wear, decide if replacement is required or not.  In a large enough bucket, submerge the filter in an alkaline based cartridge cleaning solution, leave overnight if you can.  The following day you can rinse the cartridge of the remaining dirt and cleaning chemicals.

Cleaning a DE filter

First and foremost, shut off the breaker to the pump system of your pool.  Then you must relieve the line pressure.  This is a critical step and if you forget it you may injure yourself when disassembling the filter housing.

Next, remove the drain plug and drain the residual water from the filter housing.  Then, take note of how the housing is mounted and held together, it should be reconnected the direction and manner. ( take a picture or two if you can ).  Then remove the housing top and note any part you move or remove so that it goes back together the same way.

Next, remove the assembly, inspect ( take pictures again ), then you can rinse it a bit, and start to disassemble the filter.  Remove and wash each section of the grid assembly.  Clean down all parts with a standard garden hose and spray nozzle.  No chemical cleaning is needed at this time.

Once you have cleaned all the parts, re-assemble the grid.  This is a delicate procedure and you must take your time and assemble it properly and carefully. Do not damage any of the components as they are relatively expensive to replace.  Once assembled, re-rinse off the grid and re-install back into housing.  Replace drain plug, verify the housing is mounted properly and secure then ensure the pressure relief valve is still open.  Attach the backwash hose and check that you have the multiport valve on backwash setting.  Then turn on breaker for the pump and turn on the system.  

Watch the pressure release valve until water comes out ( purges the air from system ), then close it and allow the pressure to build up.  Allow the system to backwash for about 30 seconds then shut off the system.  To recharge the system, prepare your DE solution.  Remove the backwash hose and set to Filter setting.  Set skimmer to suck water and ensure there is no more bubbles coming out of the jets.  Then slowly add the DE solution to the skimmer.

Cleaning a Sand filter

Cleaning the sand filter will probably be the most frequent of all 3, but is a rather simple process.  First step is to turn the heating system off, then close all valves on the suction and return lines, then open the cover and remove the filter basket and replace the cover.  Open the valve to the drain outlet and set to backwash and then open the suction and return valves.  Start the pump and rinse for a couple minutes.  Stop the pump, set lever to rinse and rinse for about 30 seconds.  Stop the pump again, set the valve to filter and close the drain valve and start the pump and heating system.

Very few tools are needed for sand filter cleaning, as it is simply a backwash process.  You still need to ensure the you have the pumps off and the right valves open at the right times.  Making a simple checklist is best.

Beyond the filter cleaning

There are a few other things you will need to regularly do. The first is brushing and cleaning the water line of build up.  Doing this on a regular basis will save you time from having to clean any heavy build up if you leave it too long.  The build up will vary for every pool on its usage, and if there are trees or other debris that easily falls into the pool.

Pool vacuuming and debris clean up

Regular vacuuming is one of the easiest ways to extend the life of your pool filter.  Using an automatic pool cleaner is one of the easiest methods I know of because it works on it's own while you are not using the pool.  Simple connect the automatic pool cleaner to your vacuum lines.  Most of these units work very well and have a large range in cost, size and functions.  That is several articles alone jut on automatic pool cleaners, I will get to that soon.

Beyond cleaning you have regular chemical testing and maintenance to do.  This is critical in maintaining proper ph levels and also helps reduced water line residue and easier filter cleaning as well.  What I recommend is simply taking a regular water sample to your local supply store, have them test it and provide you the correct chemicals or direction to restore that levels needed.