Common patterns of pool maintenance.
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
For some, pool maintenance can seem like a daunting and never-ending task. Pumps fail, filters leak, valves break, pipes crack, and the water chemistry can feel almost evil in its volatility during the summer months. However, there is some light that I would like to shed on the nature of patterns and how to anticipate maintenance for your pool or pools you maintain.
What do I mean by patterns in pool service?
By patterns, I mean cyclical elements that affect the nature of your pool, like weather, season, use, chemistry, temperatures, and maintenance patterns.
Let's start with weather and climate patterns.
How does the weather affect your backyard swimming pool?
Well, if you've had a pool for more than a week, you know that the wind can wreak havoc over your freshly cleaned pool. Though the wind and weather aren't as cyclical as seasonal temperatures, you can't expect things to change when weather moves. Common things I see after a storm include skimmer baskets full of leaves, pump baskets packed full, automatic pool sweepers stuck on debris such as a stick that fell in the pool. I also see sand filters full of dirt, especially around new construction areas where excavation may occur. It's rare, but sometimes I see ice on the pool's surface, which will affect how well the pool can skim debris.
Temperature changes certainly affect chemistry usage. It's generally agreed upon that for every 10° in water temperature, chemical usage increases or decreases by a measure of 50%. Along with chemistry, temperature also seems to impact the plaster if you have a gunite pool. I've noticed that stains and imperfections seem to be more prevalent when the water temperature is low, mainly when temperatures fluctuate quickly. For example, water temp is hovering around a cool 55°, and you just said to heat your pool for the weekend to 90° and then let it cool back down to 55°, you may witness some fluctuations in the coloring of your plaster.
How do temperature changes affect your pool equipment?
Some common problems that I find related to temperature changes and your pool equipment are o-rings suddenly leaking, pump motor bearings humming, gaskets failing, pipes cracking if not adequately protected from freezing temperatures, and control systems overheating if placed in direct sunlight.
Another critical pattern to watch for is bather load.
Surprisingly enough, if you've been taking care of pools long enough, you can accurately predict the usage of a pool based on a few cultural occurrences, such as school vacations, holidays, and family dynamics.
Cultural stuff like the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and days of the week Friday Saturday seem to be party days. All of these elements affect the usage of a pool in general terms. As pool professionals, we estimate the chemical demands over 1 or 2 weeks. This means the more we factor into our predictions, the more precise our chemical adjustments will be. For example, it's very common for Pool owners to have gatherings and barbecues around the 4th of July. I almost always predict heavy bather loads during this holiday. Another cultural factor is school vacation during the summer. It seems that pools get hardly any use during the off-season, obviously because it's cold in most places, but when kids are at school, they're less likely to be swimming with friends, and thus when school is out, chemical usage is much higher.
Chemical patterns are slightly different as they depend on your dosing methods and chemical preferences.
I observe a pretty distinct pattern with swimming pools that use trichlor tablets stabilized with cyanuric acid. These pools tend to build up stabilizer well beyond the recommended amounts, which affects the whole saturation index and the water balance. For us in southern Utah, higher cyanuric acid can sometimes help stabilize the pool because of the high mineral content of source water. The water filling the pool is frequently far beyond 400 parts per million of calcium hardness. I've observed up to 1200 parts per million.
If you use chlorine tablets to sanitize your pool, we recommend you drain your pool partially every year to maintain your water balance. This primarily comes from Total dissolved solids and stabilizers, otherwise known as cyanuric acid, building up in your pool water. These get worse over time, and the only methods to remove them are to process your whole pool through an RO system or drain and refill with fresh water. Pool draining is a cyclical pattern because the cyanuric acid build-up is predictable, which means pool draining is predictable and pattern-like.
Other patterns that come to mind are maintenance patterns.
We find that three-way valve o-rings often fail, especially when freeze protection is toggling your pool between Spa mode and pool mode every 15 minutes. This increased action puts excessive wear on the o-rings and valve actuators, thus resulting in more common failures during the winter.
Chemical fluctuation is normal if you have a pool professional maintaining your pool because we will be making chemical adjustments for most visits.
It's also normal to see a slightly lower water level if you have a sand filter after your pool technician has backwashed your filter.
If you can think of any other common patterns you've witnessed through pool maintenance or pool ownership, I would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment below outlining what you've seen and learned. Thanks for your time, and I hope this post was enlightening in some way.