If you're really looking to embrace the Florida life, there is no doubt that you've entertained the idea of getting a swimming pool. While there are some great benefits to pool ownership, there is also a responsibility that comes along with it. Fortunately, it's not very difficult to maintain a pool, and it's so simple that some people find it sort of meditative.
However, making a few extra steps to ensure that your pool is in good working order makes a big difference. Not properly maintaining a pool can cut its life span in half, or even shorter, and considering that a pool pump can easily account for half of a home's energy bill, it's a good idea to keep it running smoothly. Many Floridians have already invested in solar heating for their pools, which drastically cuts down on the power bill and makes for a longer swimming season, but here are a few other considerations about what you’ll need to do to keep your pool looking it's best for a long life.
Clean It Every Day
Especially if you don't have a screened in pool, you're going to have to get all of those errant leaves, twigs, and other debris that land there every day. It's much easier to spend a few minutes a day cleaning out debris than fixing the filter after it tries to eat some of that debris. Having an automatic vacuum can help with this, but if you don't have one, you'll have to do it manually. And although the chemicals will keep a lot of the algae off the sides, every now and then, you're going to have to scrub.
Watch The Water Levels
To make sure your skimmer and filter run efficiently, you've got to make sure you have the right amount of water in the pool. Ideally, the water level should be between ⅓ and ½ up the opening of the skimmer intake. When you vacuum your pool, the water level is going to lower so it's better to add water to the pool before you start vacuuming in order to keep the skimmer happy. Otherwise, it will suck in air and possibly burn out the motor.
Check The Chemicals
If you want clear water that won't make your eyes burn, this one is a biggie. There are five main chemical levels you'll need to concern yourself with: chlorine, pH, alkalinity, cyanuric acid and calcium. Chlorine and pH levels will need to be checked twice a week, while alkalinity should be tested once a week. Cyanuric acid and calcium hardness only have to be checked about once a season.
A few little notes on chemicals in Florida: If your pool gets a lot of sun, liquid chlorine is going to burn off faster so be sure to use the slow release chlorine tablets and just shock it with chlorine when necessary. Using sodium bicarbonate to control the alkalinity of a pool is what the professionals recommend, but many pool owners have found that baking soda works just find for a fraction of the price. Lastly, to keep suntan lotions and other oils from creating a film on top of the water, throw in a couple of tennis balls to absorb it.
Clean The Filter
To minimize wear and tear, your filter should be on a timer for about six hours a day to work like the kidneys of your pool, clearing out all of the impurities. Once a week, you’ll have to remove the cap and clean out the basket, and once a month, you’ll want to backwash the pipes. Both are very simple procedures that can be done in a few minutes.
Consult a Professional Annually
As amazing as I’m sure you’ll be at these little tasks, your pool is a big investment, and it deserves an annual check-up. Have a professional check out the filters, pumps, and heating system, and have him check for any leaks or other problems. Since they do it for a living, it’s better to have a professional find and fix a small problem (or better yet, not find any problems) than it is to fix a problem after it’s out of control.
The Salt Water Option
Many people enjoy salt water pools because of the more natural feel of the water. However, salt water pools still need chlorine, which is added a little differently through a salt-chlorine generator system. Ultimately, salt water pools only have one tenth the salt that the ocean does and more chlorine than a regular pool. This means that when you empty it once a year for cleaning, you'll need to have it pumped out instead of just dumping it into your yard and killing your grass. Although some people love salt water pools because they require less maintenance, most of the same steps apply, and salt water can be highly corrosive, meaning that you might have to replace things like decking and lights.
I hope this makes pool ownership a little less intimidating so that you can own that piece of paradise you've been looking for.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist