The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Swimming Pool Maintenance

If you've recently just installed a pool, or bought a property with a swimming pool, you'll require a guide that can take you through all the essential components of maintaining a clean, healthy swimming pool for you and your family and friends to enjoy.

Effective and consistent pool maintenance is vital if you want to make the most of it year after year. While it can feel like a lot at first, getting a routine in place early on can be a lifesaver.

Here, we will run through some of the basics you'll need to know to get you started. For more information on the points below, explore our blog, which is full of detailed guides!



A close up of a pool ladder

What are All the Pool Parts Called?

The first step before you can care for your pool is understanding its components. Pools are fairly simple to understand, so it won't take long to wrap your head around the ins and outs of your new swimming pool!

The Pool's Water

The pool's water will require balancing; this is done through water treatment systems and water balancing chemistry. It might initially sound quite complicated, but that's only natural when first understanding how to maintain your pool.

The water must be balanced as it will help to maintain the pool structure itself and any additional equipment, such as pool ladders and the pool pump.

For more information on how to balance your pool's water, check out our article The Ultimate Guide to pH Balancing for Swimming Pools.

The Pool's Interior Wall or Liner

Pool liners can vary from one pool to another. Some pool liners are made of solid walls, whereas others have a lining sheet made of vinyl. How you care for your pool liner will depend on its type.

Pool liners need to be cared for, as although it might not appear that they do much apart from making the pool look inviting, they also help retain the pool's water. Pool vinyl liners can be expected to last between 10 – 15 years, but many factors can affect their lifespan.

The Pool’s Filtration System

The filtration system is arguably one of the most vital parts of your pool. The filtration system works using a pump to push water through the skimmers and various other filters before returning the clean water to the pool basin.

The filtration pump is also used for various other deep cleaning tasks, which is why it is crucial that it is well maintained.

The Pool’s Cover

Pool covers are easily forgotten about, especially by beginners, but there's a lot of value in them. You'll find various different types of pool covers, including:

  • - Winter pool covers
  • - Solar pool covers
  • - Indoor covers
  • - Safety covers
  • - Automatic covers

Swimming pool covers do more than keeping leaves at bay - they can also help lock in heat, protect the chemicals in the water, and prevent people or animals from falling into the pool. Therefore, it pays to invest in a good swimming pool cover and roller.

A reflection of palm trees and the sky in a pool

The Three C's of Pool Maintenance

If you're new to owning a swimming pool, the ‘Three C's’ is a good place to start. If you can make sure your pool is achieving all of these, you'll be in a good place when it comes to maintenance.

The Three Cs are all linked - keeping on top of one will make the others much easier and vice-versa.

1. Good Circulation

Circulation is what separates a pool from a pond. You can have all the gizmos and gadgets in the world, but if your water isn't moving correctly, it's going to become green, unclean and unsafe.

All swimming pools come with a circulation system in place in a pump (usually supported by a filter). To make sure these can continue to perform as expected, you must look to:

  • - Run the pump regularly - around 10 hours a day when in use and a few hours daily out of use.
  • - Keep the filter clean - this stops the filter from clogging and damaging the pump system.
  • - Keep the pool clean and water balanced - this will reduce strain on the pump and filter.

2. Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your pool regularly will make your life as a pool owner much more manageable. Not only will it reduce the likelihood of any significant issues occurring, but it also provides a chance to spot any potential problems early.

There is more on cleaning in our schedules below, but the main things are:

3. Balanced Chemicals

Another critical aspect of maintaining your swimming pool is keeping the chemicals balanced. To sum it up, your pool is kept bacteria-free by a sanitiser (usually either chlorine or bromine) that must be maintained. However, other chemicals support the sanitiser and protect the pool as it gets to work.

These are the chemicals you will need for your swimming pool:

  • - Sanitiser - usually chlorine granules/tablets or bromine.
  • - Shock treatment - concentrated sanitiser for deep cleaning.
  • - pH increaser/decreaser - also known as pH plus or minus.
  • - Alkalinity increasers - also known as TA Plus.
  • - Calcium chloride - used to adjust the calcium hardness of the pool.
  • - Chlorine stabiliser (optional) - can protect chlorine levels if the pool is exposed to excessive sunlight.

What Chemicals Do You Need for a Swimming Pool?

Weekly Pool Maintenance Schedule

This schedule is a rough guide for a swimming pool that is used a moderate amount, such as a few swims a week. The more regularly you use your pool (such as during the height of summer), the more frequently you will need to perform water balancing tests.

Once a Week

Here is a list of tasks you will need to perform once a week:

Clean the Floors and Brush the Walls

Make sure to clean your pool by using a pool vacuum for the floors and a brush for the tiles on the waterline. However, there are ways to cut down on manual work by investing in an automatic pool cleaner.

Shock Your Pool Water

Pool owners should shock their pool using a specialist shock chemical product, usually chlorine. Shocking your pool allows you to deep clean the water by removing excess waste and bacteria, but make sure to re-balance the pool after shocking it.

Twice a Week

Here is a list of tasks you will need to perform twice a week:

    • - Check the Water Balance.

  • - Use a test strip twice a week to ensure your pH levels are between 7.4 and 7.6. You should also test the chlorine level to make sure it's at 1.0-3.0ppm.
  • - Eliminate leaves and Insects.
  • - Empty the skimmer basket and use your skimmer for hunting down pesky leaves and other floating objects from the surface and floor.

Monthly Pool Maintenance Schedule

Here is a rough guide for what you should include on your monthly schedule.

Water Samples

It pays to have the water professionally checked once a month to help your pool's water stay at the correct chemical balance.

Most pool stores will have testing equipment that is far more advanced than your standard strip. Take a water sample in to double-check your chemical balance; this could even spot potential issues with growing algae and bacteria early, making them easier to resolve.

Take a clean bottle and fill it up with water from, ideally, the middle of your swimming pool. Avoid taking your sample from near the skimmer opening or return jets.

Prevent Any Algae from Developing

The most common cause of green water is algae. While a small amount is barely noticeable, left to its own devices, algae can become an unsightly and persistent problem.

If you keep your water balanced, algae should be kept at bay before it can even form. However, if you notice any green starting to build up, you will need to clean your pool using a variety of equipment; take a look at our guide on How to Remove Black Algae from Your Pool to find out more.

However, if your pool walls or liner are turning a shade of green, this could be an indication of build-up in copper. This can be caused by using tap water to fill your pool or having a low pH level. A pool with a low pH's can erode the copper in your pool filter or plumbing.

To resolve this, you will need a particular test for copper, as most test strips do not test for heavy metals.

If you find you have a high level of copper after testing, a few remedies are available.

Perhaps the best of these is a metal trap filter. This gadget will selectively filter out metals. It's worth noting that this is not to be used in place of a regular water filter. All you need to do is set it up and leave it be for it to remove the copper particles from your pool.

If you prefer not to deal with this issue in the first place, there are preventative measures you can put in place, such as the Hose Filter. When using tap water to fill your pool, you can use this mechanism to mitigate the entry of copper into your pool.

Yearly Pool Maintenance Schedule

Some tasks you will only need to complete once a year. However, this doesn't mean that these aren't just as important as your daily and weekly jobs. By keeping on top of these, you can save yourself from having to pay for major repairs in the future.

Deep Cleaning Pool Filters

Occasionally, your filter can benefit from a deeper, chemical clean. How you do this will depend on which type of filter you use. Most have special chemical cleaners available to keep them performing for many years to come.

Checking Your Pool Systems

You should regularly conduct checks of your pool's hardware to ensure nothing's out of place.

Inspect the pump and filter system to make sure there aren't any cracks that could cause issues. It also pays to lubricate the O-rings of your pump and filter systems (such as in the push/pull valve) with a specialist pool lubricant to make sure nothing gets stuck over time.

An infinity pool

Caring for Your Pool When It's Out of Use

Unless you live somewhere along the equator, you will most likely only swim during certain times of the year. For swimming pool owners in the UK, the 'open season' usually runs from spring until autumn, causing most pools to close over winter.

Winterising Your Pool

If you leave your pool as it is once summer has come and gone, you'll soon return to a mess that needs cleaning in spring. What's worse, leaving your pool to its own devices for that long can damage your pool's internal systems, which will have been exposed to the cold and unkept chemicals.

To close or winterise your pool, you need to:

  • 1. Perform a deep clean, including shocking the water and backwashing the filter.
  • 2. Reduce the water level - the amount of reduction can vary depending on what cover you have.
  • 3. Install your pool cover for winter.

You may still need to do some light maintenance during winter, such as running the pump if it's still got water inside. You may also choose to use a pool cover pump every now and again to ensure it remains in good condition and doesn't get weighed down by standing water. 

However, taking these steps helps maintain a clean, healthy pool throughout winter, allowing you to avoid paying for any unnecessary repairs and making opening for spring a much quicker process.

What to Do with Your Pool When Going on Vacation

Leaving your pool unchecked for long periods of time can sometimes spell trouble. Here are some options that can help you and your pool when you're away for prolonged intervals:

  • - Close the pool - doing this first will make caring for the pool while you're away much more manageable.
  • - Invest in a timer - your pool will still need to be run, so getting a timer can be a good decision.
  • - Ask friends/family - you can provide a list of simple checks they need to do to make sure everything's still running smoothly.

Although it may seem like a hassle, your pool will still require maintenance while you're away, so it's best to use the above tips to ensure your pool is in tip-top condition.

If you need any more support, be sure to explore our blog or get in touch with our expert team, who are always happy to help.

Here at 1st Direct Pools, we specialise in all things swimming pools. We supply pool covers, chemicals, water treatments - everything you'll ever need at competitive prices!

12 Tips for Every New Pool Owner