Running a Swimming Pool

Running a pool can seem confusing when you find yourself in at the deep end, but it can be straightforward once you get the hang of it.

Here at 1st Direct Pools, we’ve compiled some advice to help you manage your swimming pool.

If you require any swimming pool parts or accessories to help maintain your pool, you can contact a member of our team or browse through our extensive range of products, including our swimming pool covers and chemicals.


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How Do Filters Work?


Most pool filters fall into one of three categories:

• Cartridge filter
• Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filter
• Sand filter

A cartridge filter is a big cylinder of folded polyester sheets. Some cartridge filters will only need one cartridge, others may need multiple.

D.E. filters use 8-10 filter grids covered in diatomaceous earth to catch debris.

A sand filter is a system that has a media inside; usually, this will consist of washed and graded silica sand. When water is forced through from top to bottom, the media will trap and hold tiny particles of debris.

As more material is captured by the filter, the reading of the pump’s pressure gauge will increase. Once the pressure has increased by eight-to-ten pounds compared to the initial reading, the filter will need to be cleaned, this is done by backwashing.

Other than the water pressure gauge, the water flow and clarity will also indicate when it is time to backwash your filter.

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How Does Backwashing Work?

Backwashing works by forcing water in the opposite direction to its usual flow, from bottom to top. The action of backwashing will fluidise the media and raise it by 10% of its volume which releases all of the trapped particles, allowing them to be flushed directly to waste.

When backwashing your filter, it’s important to bear in mind that you are removing a moderate amount of water from your pool. Your water will require topping up and also rebalancing with chemicals.

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Skimmer Baskets


Pool skimmer baskets are part of the pool’s system; they are designed to skim water off the surface to catch floating debris.

The water is sucked through the pool’s filtration system and drawn through the skimmer, where debris and contaminants such as hair, leaves and sunscreen are removed.

The skimmer basket should be checked at least once a week, even more so during windy weather. While emptying the basket, it’s important to also check for any damages. Broken baskets will be ineffective at maintaining a debris-free pool.

Cleaning the Skimmer Basket

Over time the baskets will become brittle, so to avoid any breakages, the most effective method is to rotate the skimmer baskets with spares and wait for the contents to completely dry before cleaning.

If a pool heater was in operation, you will need to wait five-to-ten minutes for it to cool before turning off the pool pump.

1. Switch the pump off.
2. Close the skimmer and main drain valves.
3. If your pool pump is located below the waterline, turn the filter valve to ‘close’.
4. Remove the pump’s lid.
5. Extract and wash the basket with a hose or rotate baskets.
6. Inspect the basket for signs of damage and replace if necessary.
7. Reinstall the pump basket. If your basket has a twist-lock installation system, be sure not to overtighten when reinstalling.
8. Inspect the pump lid and the O-rings for any cracks or damage. If the lid and O-rings appear dry, petroleum jelly should be applied to lubricate them.
9. Install the pump lid and O-rings, avoid over-tightening.
10. Ensure the filter valve is in the ‘filter’ position.
11. Open the main drain valve to the maximum setting.
12. Open the air relief valve on the pool filter.
13. Turn on the pump.
14. When the water begins to flow, individually open the skimmer valves.
15. When a steady stream of water is visible from the air relief valve, close it.

Backwashing the Filter


Backwashing is a method used to thoroughly clean swimming pool filters. Thisonly requires a few minutes of your time and can help you avoid having to manually clean them as often.

This procedure should follow emptying the coarse strainer basket and be done weekly when in use.

1. Switch off the pump.
2. Turn the backwash valve to the ‘backwash’ setting. The backwash valve can be a plunger or multivalve depending on your setup.
3. Turn the pump on until the filter sight-glass appears clear of small particles (usually after two-to-four minutes).
4. Alternate between backwash and rinse (or filter for plungers) on the valve a few times. Ensure that the pump is turned off to change the valve seconds.
5. Open the release valves at the top of the filter to allow the water to drain.

How to Vacuum the Pool


Before you start to vacuum your pool, ensure that the pump and filter are running.

1. Attach the vacuum head to the open end of the telescopic pole.
2. Fit the swivel end of the vacuum hose to the vacuum head.
3. Lower the head and hose on to the pool floor and feed the rest of the hose against a return jet in the pool to expel any air.
4. Connect the end of the hose to either the vacuum point or the vacuum plate in the skimmer.
5. Close the suction valves except for the one you have connected to the vacuum, ensure that the vacuum inlet is the only line open to the pump.
6. Slowly move the head across the pool floor. If you move too quickly, the floor may appear clean, but this is because the debris will be suspended above the floor of the pool.
7. When you have finished vacuuming the pool, reverse the procedure to remove the vacuum equipment and then backwash the filter.

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Chemical Management


When managing the water chemistry of your pool, it’s important to always read the labels of the products and to never mix chemicals.

Adding Chemicals to Your Pool

When balancing the water chemistry of your pool, we have some helpful tips that will ensure your safety.

We highly recommend that you:

- Use a plastic bucket to dissolve the chemicals before adding them to your pool.
- Dissolve the chemicals in warm water.
- Always add the chemicals to water, rather than water to the chemicals.
- Always wear protective safety clothing, including eye protection.
- Always ensure the filter pump is operating before adding any chemicals to the pool water.
- If you need to add more than one chemical, allow 15 minutes between each chemical.

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Chlorine is the most popular sanitiser used for swimming pools, you can find chlorine available in three forms: liquid, granular or tablets.

Chlorine should be added to your swimming pool throughout the swimming season for routine chlorination; this should be incorporated into a swimming pool maintenance schedule.

When adding and maintaining chlorine levels, they should be between 1.5 and 3 ppm.

Shock Dose

Shock dosing your pool is also known as super-chlorinating. This is when you add a large dose of chlorine which will notably increase the chlorine levels. This is done to break down organic debris and remove any bacteria and contamination.

You should shock dose the water three times a week during use; this will eliminate algae spores that are not visible.

You can shock dose with a liquid shock or rapid dissolving granular shock.

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pH Balance

The pH balance of your swimming pool should be between 7.3 and 7.6.

A pH level of 7 indicates the pool water is neutral. If the reading is any lower, the pool water is acidic, which can not only cause damage to the pool but will also irritate bathers' eyes.

If you find that your pH balance is too low, you can increase it by using pH plus or soda ash.

If the pH is higher than 8, the water is classed as basic or alkaline - this should not be confused with total alkalinity. Basic water can cause skin rashes, cloudy water and pool wall scaling.

When the reading is too high, you can reduce the pH level by using pH minus or dry acid.

Total Alkalinity

Total alkalinity is used to measure how much alkaline there is in the water. This is important as it will help to stabilise the pH scale of the water.

Total alkalinity levels should be kept between 100 to 150 ppm in a liner pool. In a concrete pool, the levels should read between 100 to 120 ppm.

If the levels become too high you can use the following to reduce it:

- pH minus
- TA minus
- pH & alkalinity reducer
- Dry acid

If the levels become too low you can use the following to increase it:

- TA plus
- Alkalinity increaser
- Sodium bicarbonate

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For more information about managing your swimming pool, you can contact our team instore, or you can refer to our website here at 1st Direct Pools. We regularly update our blog which is filled with helpful information and instructions to make running your swimming pool that little bit easier!