ALCOA, Tenn. – With summer quickly approaching, swimming pools can provide refreshing relief from the heat of the season. But, as with any part of a home, pools require upkeep.
Pool owners often find maintenance to be challenging. East Tennessee general contractor Hickory Construction finds that with the right tools and practices, pool maintenance can be easy. The firm has served the area for 40 years constructing both commercial and residential swimming pools and other outdoor spaces. For these types of projects, Hickory collaborates with local contractors such as Tipton Builders, Inc., a pool builder that has served the custom pool and pool maintenance needs of Knoxville and East Tennessee for over 30 years.
“We want our customers to enjoy the pools and outdoor areas we create for them, and one of the best ways to do that is through routine maintenance and upkeep,” said Hickory Construction Vice President of Marketing John McMillan. “Hickory typically works with individuals proven to provide an exceptional product along with exceptional customer service. When it comes to pools and outdoor projects, Hickory creates some beautiful spaces for our customers by partnering with folks who meet those criteria.”
Sara Tipton, service manager at Tipton Builders, said there is a checklist pool contractors recommend homeowners follow to ensure the best summer swim experience possible.
As with other aspects of a home, there are essential pieces of equipment each pool owner needs.
“Every pool owner should have a telescopic pole, brush, leaf net, vacuum and vacuum hose, leaf net and water test kit,” Tipton said. “All of these pieces will be very important in the maintenance of your pool.”
A telescopic pole is a pole that attaches at multiple places in order to extend as long as needed. It is often used with attachments to maintain various parts of a pool. One attachment often used with a telescopic pole is a brush used to scrub the inside floors and wall of a pool. Another common telescopic pole attachment is a leaf net, used to skim the surface of the pool water and retrieve any leaves that may be floating on it.
A pool vacuum can be manual or automatic and is used to gather debris on the bottom of a pool. The vacuum hose attaches to the vacuum to transport the debris to the pool’s skimmer.
Lastly, a typical water-test kit contains reagents, testing strips and sample tubes used to test chlorine, pH, bromine and alkaline levels in a pool’s water. This information tells the owner which chemicals to add to keep the water safe for swimming. A test kit is essential to the next item on a pool owner’s checklist.
Maintaining the chemistry of a pool’s water keeps the water clean and safe to use. Chemicals in the water must be kept at certain levels, and the materials in test kits are used to check these levels.
“Pool owners need to check their pool water once a week,” Tipton said. “They should make sure to get their water sample for testing 18 inches below the surface of the pool’s water and away from any returns. They also need to check their reagents to ensure they are not expired. Reagents are the substances located in a test kit used to measure the presence of different chemicals in pool water, and expired reagents will give you incorrect results.”
Tipton also said pool owners need to follow a three-step program for maintaining their pool’s chemistry: sanitizer, shock and algaecide.
Sanitizer must be added to pool water to kill bacteria and other organic matter that can contaminate a pool. A commonly used sanitizer is chlorine.
Shock is also used to maintain the level of sanitizing agent in a pool to ensure contaminates are continuing to be killed. Tipton said a pool should be shocked once every two weeks and always after sundown.
Algaecide should be added the morning following a shock treatment. Algaecide works together with a pool’s sanitizer to kill algae growing in a pool. Different algaecides are used to treat different kinds of algae.
Keeping up with the routine of cleaning a pool is also very important to the maintenance, especially when first opening a pool for the season.
“Before opening your pool for the summer, pool owners should be sure to brush and vacuum the pool walls and floor,” Tipton said. “This should also be done routinely for general pool maintenance as well.”
Tipton said pool owners also need to check sand filters routinely to keep them rinsed and keep the pool’s pump and skimmer baskets clear of debris for good filtration.
Lastly, maintain the pool’s equipment. This effort can be the most expensive part of owning a pool if equipment is not properly kept up throughout the season.
“Check over your heaters, pumps, cleaners, chlorinators and filters to ensure proper operation and for any leaks that may pop up,” Tipton said. “Leaks are common in the equipment, especially for pumps, and finding one quickly will be the difference in spending a few dollars and hundreds of dollars.”
As a former pool owner, McMillan said he understands pool maintenance can be difficult to stay on top of, and that is why Hickory Construction wants to help educate its customers and hopefully make keeping up their pools and outdoor living areas easier for them.
“If possible, hire your pool maintenance out to someone like Tipton,” McMillan said. “If that is not possible, using these tips in the upkeep of a swimming pool will ensure our customers’ pools and equipment last as long as possible, and that’s what we want. Hickory strives to provide living, working and playing spaces that our customers can enjoy for years to come.”