Feature Article - April 2019
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Keep Your Head Above Water

Proper Pool Maintenance Procedures

By Dave Ramont

Keep It Clean

One of the most fundamental parts of routine maintenance is regular pool cleaning, which aside from the obvious benefits, will also help keep mechanical components working properly and sanitizer levels easier to manage.

"A clean pool will increase the life of the equipment and ultimately save money on long-term maintenance," said Post. "This is especially true with water balance. While it's important to keep proper disinfection levels to keep swimmers safe, it's equally important to keep the water balanced to protect the equipment."

Daily or frequent cleaning tasks include manual skimming—using a long-handled leaf skimmer to gather leaves, insects and other debris on the surface. It's much easier to retrieve these items before they sink to the bottom. Skimmers and skimmer baskets should be regularly cleaned, which will keep pool skimmers running at maximum efficiency. If the pool sees high traffic, vacuuming should be done daily to remove dirt and debris from the floor. A commercial pool vacuum attached to a telepole is commonly used, and some pools also use a robotic cleaner. These can be programmed to "learn" a particular pool and develop an appropriate cleaning pattern. Some are able to climb the walls and scrub those as well.

One of the most fundamental parts of routine maintenance is regular pool cleaning.

"If algae may be a concern, brushing outdoor pool walls and floor should be part of the daily maintenance program," said DeRosa. Pool brushes can attach to a telepole, and they're typically steel or nylon, depending on the type of pool surface.

Stephens said a part of their pool doesn't get much sun, so they find they need to scrub those surface areas even more frequently.

Post explained how in recent years there's been more research on biofilm and its effects on chlorine and chlorine byproducts. "Scrubbing the pool surfaces will slow down the growth of biofilm. Also, pool decks should be cleaned (disinfected) weekly and deep-cleaned (acid washed) every couple of years."

As far as other cleaning concerns, DeRosa said that diving boards and starting blocks should be cleaned to manufacturer's guidelines. "Typically, this includes a daily rinse down as well as a monthly scrub to ensure the surface remains slip-free. Diving board grease fittings of the roller block should be lubricated every two weeks. Hinges that hold the board to the stand should be lightly oiled every two weeks."

"No one likes swimming in a dirty pool or a dirty facility," said Mullins. "Pool decks need to be cleaned daily, especially if food is allowed on the pool deck. Tile lines around the pool must be scrubbed on a routine basis. Stainless steel is a common material for lifeguard stands, hand rails and pool ladders. Staff must clean all stainless steel surfaces on a routine basis to prevent corrosion."

A Fine Finish

When it comes to swimming pool finishes, tile will last the longest, followed by pool plaster. Pool paint is the least expensive option, but facilities need to address repainting typically every one to five years, depending on paint type and environment, though some higher-grade epoxy paints might last up to eight years.

"Painting is a cost-effective means of preserving the life of a pool. With proper maintenance, a pool will be fresh, clean and pristine, and provide the experience people expect when anticipating the enjoyment of a pool," said Rebecca Spencer, marketing manager for a New Jersey-based manufacturer of pool, deck and fountain coatings.

So when should a facility repaint their pool? "The finish or coatings may fade, or areas such as steps and floor may be worn down to the bare surface," said Spencer. "Visible signs of cracks, bubbles or peeling paint will indicate the need for the pool to be repaired, cleaned and painted."

Before painting, Spencer said surface preparation is paramount. "A pool surface must be repaired of any cracks or divots. Peeling, bubbles or blisters must be sanded. The surface must be thoroughly cleaned to remove oil, dirt, debris or any substance that could prevent a coating from adhering. The final step is to be sure the surface is completely dry before painting."

Painting is a cost-effective means of preserving the life of a pool.

There are three types of pool coatings: acrylic, synthetic rubber, and epoxy. Most options can be applied to a bare surface, though an epoxy or chlorinated rubber is usually suggested for its durability and service life, according to Spencer. Not all coatings are compatible with one another, so once a coating is selected—or if the pool has been previously painted—it's best to continue to use the same type of coating. If you don't know what type of paint has been used on your pool previously, Spencer's company can provide an analysis of chips acquired from the surface to find out which type of coating was used. Recommendations are then made for what type of coating to use, as well as surface preparation tips to remedy any existing issues.

Deck paint, which Spencer said is different than pool paint, is formulated to shield against UV rays that can cause blistering, cracking and fading. "Deck paint is designed to withstand direct foot traffic and, most importantly, must remain cool and not absorb the heat of the sun which makes it difficult to walk on with bare feet."