Pool Maintenance

It’s hard to find insights on the Internet that really help the DIY pool owner. Having learned the hard way from some failures, here are some that I wish I had much earlier.

Sparkling Clean Water

Water that literally sparkles in the sun requires:

  1. clean filter
  2. properly shocked pool
  3. sufficient filtration run time.

Quality Equipment

Install quality, high-end equipment from brands that have been around for decades. The budget stuff breaks and causes stress and headaches. The water chemistry is brutal, as is the exposure to the elements; UV rays, rain and dust.

Use high-quality valves that you can disassemble when needed. Use pipe diameters of 2″ to 3″ as seen in high-end pools for efficiency.

Pool Chemistry

Various water chemistry options exist to disinfect and keep pool water sparkling. The least complicated and most widespread water chemistry is chlorine chemistry. Even considering the effects of swimming in it and consumption levels of toxic chemicals, alternatives are far from a golden bullet.

Next, some insights pertaining to chlorine chemistry.

Sequence of Adjusting Water Chemistry

Take your time and adjust your water balance slowly, step by step. It’s good to add less chemical at a time and wait and see first, if you have the time. Calculate the volume of water in your pool and use a calculator to calculate the amounts of chemical to add.

  1. Alkalinity
  2. pH
  3. Ca hardness
  4. Stabilizer

Pool Shock

Shocking the pool is not just dumping a lot of chemicals into your pool. Proper shocking of a pool needs to reduce the amount of combined chlorine relative to free chlorine. To decompose combined chlorine, we need a very high concentration of free chlorine. The amount of free chlorine needs to be substantial to be effective.

Raise the free chlorine level to about 10x the combined chlorine level to shock a pool.

Finally, algaecide chemicals are only a band-aid to control algae, not a solution. To clear the pool, you’ll need a chlorine shock. To kill an algae bloom it might take 30 ppm chlorination. In such cases, a chlorine accelerator such as Yellow-Out can be helpful to free up more chlorine faster.

Benefits of Balanced Water

Balanced water leads to stable water balance, and it minimizes the wear on equipment and plaster. As an example, ugly bare concrete patches may appear on plaster if the Alkalinity level is too low for too long.

Ideal water lacks combined chlorine and has a pH close to 7.5. This eliminates chlorine smell and matches the pH to that of the human eye.

Continuous Water Circulation

For sparkling water, run a pool pump 8-12 hours a day. Even better, if you invest in a variable flow pump, you can run the pump at a minimal speed 24/7. I run my IntelliFlo VSF continuously at a minimal 20 GPM flow rate, consuming only 190 Wh. Compared to this, at 60 GPM at full speed, consumption becomes 1.4 kWh with a clean filter. Continuous operation reduces wear and tear because of priming and other abrupt pressure changes, and because of a lower system operating pressure. The pump also runs extremely quietly, another plus.

Filter Cleaning or Back Washing

After perfectly cleaning a D.E. filter, set the pressure gauge marker to the level when the pump runs normally, with the pump running at full speed. Clean the filter when the pressure increases by 10 psi above clean and newly charged filter pressure. With a constant flow rate pump, you can instead see when the power consumption (W) has increased significantly, for example in my case about 150 W higher at 20 gpm flow rate.

During high season, you may need to maintain the filter every 6 weeks. Otherwise, once every 3 months may be sufficient.

Make sure you have enough new D.E. before you clean the old material away. Running the filter without D.E. results in debris getting stuck in your filter, which is hard to clean out later.

A Pentair 180009 Nautillus FNS Plus FNSP 60 D.E. filter has a 60 ft^2 filter area and requires 6 lbs of D.E. for proper coverage. This 10:1 ft^2 to lbs ratio is a good rule of thumb. D.E. filter measuring cups often corresponds to 1 lbs per cup.

Instead of opening up the filter, backwash. Only do a thorough filter cleaning once or twice a year. The filter hardware will last longer, it’s far less messy, you save a lot of time, and it is sufficiently clean after.

Make sure that you have sufficient high water level in the pool to complete the procedure because water needs to be flowing through the strainer baskets when adding new D.E. after the cleaning.

Stop the pump, switch filter to “backwash” position, then run the pump 30…60s. If your valve has a “rinse” position, such as on the Pentair 261152 Multi-Port Valve. Stop the pump, switch to “rinse” and run the pump 30s. Finally, place the valve back in “filter” position. Often there is a clear bulb window to view the water exiting to the drain. You can repeat the steps until the water has become sufficiently clear.

The backwash position reverses flow through the filter media and water exits through the discharge port to sewer. The rinse position sends water through filter the normal way, but still to sewer. It cleans out any debris on the clean side of the filter. The drain position moves water from pump straight to sewer.


Store pool chemicals separately, away from anything of value, especially metal parts and equipment. Rust appears really quickly on any metal near chlorine; moist conditions lead to HOCl, which is a very strong oxidiser.

updated: 20240300, 20240506

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